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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Interview and Giveaway With Jo Bourne

Welcome to the Risky Regencies, Jo Bourne! I am so excited to have you here to visit. Please, do come down from the pedestal I keep you on…

About Jo Bourne

Author photo of Joanna Bourne. She has short curly hair and glasses.

Joanna Bourne

Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat. She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars.

She’s fascinated by that time and place – such passionate conviction and burning idealism … and really sexy clothes.


Where to Find Jo


About Rogue Spy

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever. . .

Read an excerpt:

Our Risky Interview

Q: At the Riskies, we love research stories. Can you tell us about some of the research you did for this book?

The problem with talking about research in a book that’s hitting the shelf now, is that I wrote it and did the research for it a year or more ago. I have trouble remembering the research I did last Tuesday, (hint: it was about small rivers in Kent,) let alone what I was looking at in April a year ago.

I do remember Rogue Spy was stuffed with foreign language — Latin and Italian mostly — but with odd bits of this and that tucked in various places. I spent the whole writing year up to my keister in lists of Latin phrases, trying to find something Classical that would work in my dialog.

The Italian about drove me crazy. (Note to fellow writers — Google Translate is NOT sufficient.) I am soooo glad I was using Tuscan, the mother of modern Italian, rather than some other two-century-old Italian dialect.

Can I give a shout out to my publisher, Berkley? They gave me a copyeditor who apparently spoke all these languages (or knew how to do really good language research.) Anything I got right, the copyeditor did it.

Q: Have you ever come across a historical fact where you just went “Huh. Who’d a thunk it?”

One factoid that struck me recently . . .

In the Work in Progress I send my protagonists riding through deserted stretches of countryside, headed from London to the southeast coast of England. The Dover to Folkestone area.

Did you know the big road running down to Dover and Folkestone is a Roman road?

Okay. Okay. Everybody else in the world probably knows this.  Maybe I even knew this.  But I’d never thought about it.

The A2, Dover to London Road, is Watling Street, a Celtic trackway that was there when the Romans invaded and started paving everything. This is probably the road Chaucer’s Pilgrims travelled.

That was all not-so-useful factoid because I didn’t use the A2. My action was better suited to the A20.

I spend a lot of my time looking at period maps.

Q: Have you ever wanted to write in another historical period?

If I couldn’t write Regency/Napoleonic War books — let’s say the market dried up or became saturated or whatever — I’d probably scuttle over to Urban Fantasy.  It would be such a relief not doing half an hour’s research to find out when the bridge in Farningham, Kent was built. (It’s Medieval.)

If I were going to write in another historical period . . . Classical Rome. What delightful, ruthless, aristocrats. What politics. What clash of ideals.

Did I mention the really cool Roman clothing?

Q: Read any good books lately?

Oh yes.  Yes. Let me list a few Historical Romances that just came out or are about to:

  • Grace Burrowes, What a Lady Needs for Christmas.
  • Donna Thorland, Mistress Firebrand. (Okay. That’s not actually out yet.)
  • Mary Jo Putney, Not Quite a Wife.
  • Jeannie Lin, Gunpowder Alchemy. (Umm … that’s another one not quite on the shelves.)
  • Shana Galen, Love and let Spy.

Q: Volcanoes. For or against?

One has to applaud the showmanship. The edge-of-the-chair anticipation. The brilliant reds and oranges. The ionized lightning that flashes from the ominous plumes of black rising to the sky.

On the other hand, there’s the possibility one of them may bring civilization, as we know it, to an end. Or destroy all life on earth.

Not good.

So I’m fence-sitting on this topic.

Q: Favorite historical weapon?

Black, well-honed, carefully balanced throwing knives.  They are not so much weapons as works of art.  But you knew I was going to say that.

Q: What’s next for you?

I’m working fitfully and with varying levels of success on the Séverine story. We will see how that comes out. Eventually.


We’re giving away three copies of Rogue Spy! Digital or print, winner’s choice.

Rules: Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. For a digital copy, you need to be able to accept a gift card from a US-based vendor.

Winner chosen at random from among the commenters at the blog. Comment before midnight Eastern, Friday, October 31, 2014. Alternate winners will be chosen for winners who do not reply to my notification after 10 days.

To enter, comment with your guess as to Jo’s favorite color. (Being right or wrong on this has no bearing on your chances of winning, so feel free to be creative.) Like, “Jo Bourne’s favorite color is the soft blue of the sky at dusk.”

As some of you may know, my novella One Starlit Night is in the boxed set Seven Wicked Nights.

Seven Wicked Nights by Carolyn Jewel and others

Last week, Seven Wicked Nights hit the USA Today Bestseller list at #126. This means Yours Truly and the rest of the authors in the set are bestselling authors! It’s still sinking in that that includes me. This boxed set will only be available for another month or so, so if you have $0.99 ….

Amazon | iBooks | Nook
| Kobo | Google Play

Tuesday, A Notorious Ruin came out. Risky readers of this book might well recognize some of the elements in the book:
A Notorious Ruin by Carolyn Jewel

Geneva Wafers:
In this post, I blogged about making Geneva Wafers from a period cook book, one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever had. Seriously. Geneva Wafers make an appearance in A Notorious Ruin.

Running the office football pool
: A post in which I masterfully brought together gambling, The San Francisco 49ers, and the Regency. In A Notorious Ruin, my heroine, Lucy, does the non-computer-aided version of what I did when I was running the office football pool, which is to say, compile statistics and slice and dice them to find out … The 49ers were pretty much a lock to win the Superbowl that year. Which they did. Lucy does this with the results of boxing matches and an upcoming heavyweight battle.

Boxing. The hero of A Notorious Ruin is a nobleman and a boxer. Not a professional boxer, but a very very good amateur, and he discovers that Lucy is more expert than he is. Lucy and Thrale box. Just saying.

Amazon | iBooks | Nook
| Kobo | Google Play

Cover of Christmas in the Duke's Arms.

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Coming your way in October will be Christmas In The Duke’s Arms, an anthology of new and original Christmas novellas from Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen. This is such a great anthology! I should have buy links shortly. In the meantime, here’s some information about the stories:

A Knight Before Christmas by Grace Burrowes

Sir Leviticus Sparrow is a man of business who means business when it comes to offering Penelope Carrington marriage under the mistletoe.

With her year of mourning at an end, Penelope Carrington must remarry in haste, or her portion of her late husband’s estate won’t be enough to dower her younger sisters. Shy, handsome man of business Sir Leviticus Sparrow longs to give Penelope a marriage proposal for Christmas—and his heart—but Sir Levi must first foil the other bachelors scheming to meet Penelope under the mistletoe in his place.

In The Duke’s Arms by Carolyn Jewel

What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?

The Duke of Oxthorpe lost his intensely guarded heart to Miss Edith Clay when Edith’s rich cousin sought to attach the duke’s marital interest. So smitten is Oxthorpe with the former poor relation that he’s gone through intermediaries to sell Edith a property adjoining the ducal seat.

Edith doesn’t much care for the haughty duke, but as Christmas approaches, Oxthorpe reveals himself to be reserved rather than arrogant, considerate, and—blame the mistletoe!—an accomplished kisser. Will Edith hold Oxthorpe’s earlier behavior against him, or will she learn that the best holiday gifts can be the most unexpected?

Read Chapter 1 of In The Duke’s Arms

Licensed to Wed by Miranda Neville

If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes.

Wyatt, Viscount Carbury is much too busy to court a bride, but when his childhood neighbor, Robina Weston, is left orphaned and penniless, Wyatt dutifully adds marrying Robina to his list of responsibilities. Wyatt is dismayed to learn that for Robina, poverty and pride are preferable to sharing life with an arrogant, infuriating man who always thinks he knows best.

When Wyatt and Robina must endure Christmas in the country together, antipathy turns to interest, and then to unexpected attraction. Will they fight their feelings, or yield to the surprising gifts the holidays offer?

The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe by Shana Galen

Fledgling spies Q and Moneypence pursue love and a highwayman in The Duke’s Arms.

A Regency Christmas with a Dash of Intrigue…

When weapons designer Eliza Qwillen (Q) and Pierce Moneypence, clerk to the mysterious M, arrive in the English countryside, they’re unprepared for the dangers that await. The operatives are intent upon capturing the highwayman styling himself as the New Sherriff of Nottingham. Secret rendezvous, mistaken identities, and cat-and-mouse games challenge these fledgling agents, but rediscovering their passion for each other is the most rewarding mission of all.

raynhamghostSince my blogging day has fallen on Halloween, I’ll do my best to get into the spirit of things. (Get that? “Spirit”? Feel free to groan!)

I checked out the Internet and found many suggestions for “10 Most Haunted whatever”. Here are a few.

Listverse’s Top 10 Most Haunted Places (anywhere) has the following in the United Kingdom: Borley Rectory, Raynham Hall in Norfolk, where this famous ghost lady picture was taken, the Tower of London and Edinborough Castle.

Lists for the top 10 in the UK vary. Interestingly, Raynham Hall didn’t appear on either of the lists I checked. Haunted Rooms’ Top 10 Haunted Places in England lists the following places: Borley Rectory, Ancient Ram Inn, Pendle Hill, Berry Pomeroy Castle, Woodchester Mansion, Pluckley Village, Athelhampton House, Tower of London, Salmesbury Hall, Chillingham Castle. Visit Britain’s Top 10 Most Haunted Places lists Highgate Cemetery, Borley Rectory, Pendle Hill, Red Lion in Avebury, Ancient Ram Inn, Glamis Castle, Tower of London, Culloden Moor, Llancaiach Fawr Manor, Berry Pomeroy Castle.

borleyghostBorley Rectory seems to always hit every list. I’d already read tales of the hauntings, supposedly due to a monk from a monastery that had existed on the site falling in love with a nun. According to the story, he was executed and she was bricked up alive within the convent walls. According to the Haunted Legend of Borley Rectory, this legend has no historical basis. However, there were strange incidents, reports of ghost carriages, an apparition that could have been a nun. However, there’s also some suspicion that a paranormal researcher, Harry Price, faked the phenomena he reported, and also that a subsequent resident, Marianne Foyster, may have faked paranormal activity to cover up her affair with a lodger.

Here’s an image of a purported ghost sighting at Borley.

Another of the places that seems to hit a lot of the lists is Pendle Hill, around which 12 women who in 1612 were tried and hanged as witches in what became known as the Lancashire Witch Trials. Check out this Youtube video to learn more. Given the superstitious nature of the time when these hangings occurred, some are now urging for these women to be pardoned.

The legend of the Lancashire Witches forms some of the backstory for Lucy in Disguise by Lynn Kerstan, one of the Regencies in the ebook set Regency Masquerades. The set also includes the RITA-winning Gwen’s Ghost, co-authored by Lynn Kerstan and Alicia Rasley.

Regency Masquerades will be on sale for 99 cents only for a few more days, so if you’re interested, buy it now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.


What ghost or witch stories or haunted places do you find the most interesting?

Wishing you a happy Halloween!


castYes, I enjoyed it but let me quibble. Because what else is blogging for? I loved Anna Maxwell Martin in The Bletchley Circle where she played a smart woman trapped by domesticity who brought her formidable intelligence to solving a mystery … oh. I see what they did there. Never mind. But Lizzie? Fine eyes and all that? There was some sweet lovie-dovey stuff with Darcy in the beginning (were they really planning an afternoon bedroom tryst or just planning to meet for a nice cup of tea?). After that she seemed to treat him like a large, unpredictable dog, lots of pats on the shoulder and consolatory treats for the Great Darcy.

No, really, the cast were all fine, although Sir Selwyn Hardcastle’s (Trevor Eve) facial hair scared me a little but I’ll get over it. The trouble is, that the depiction of  well-meaning people doing their best to behave well can be rather tedious TV, which is why Lydia (Jenna Coleman, and OMG that military hat and jacket) stole the show: all that screaming and swooning and deshabille made for a lot of fun. She even upstaged Mrs. Bennet.

castle-howard-antiquepassageBut this is a series where everyone is upstaged by the settings. Ooh boy. Pemberley is depicted by Castle Howard and Chatsworth House. Here is the Antiques Passage at Howard, where various characters stride. It is a space that demands striding. And here are Lizzy and Darcy in Chatsworth House:

chatsworthQuite a lot of the interiors were from Chatsworth, including the Turquoise Room:






hcragsHardcastle Crags in Yorkshire were used for the woodland and waterfall. In real life, the stepping stones across the stream lead to somewhere completely different, Stang End Cottage at the Ryedale Folk Museum in Yorkshire, a reconstructed early eighteenth century moor cottage. And I cannot Ryedale_CruckCottageresist pointing out that the Museum is at a place called Hutton-le-Hole.

Altogether I thought it was an excellent example of better TV from an indifferent book, and the producers certainly worked hard to make it entertaining and, I think, historically correct. What did you think of Episode I?


Filming at Chatsworth

This week, I’m going to start with:


This Saturday is the #FallBackInTime event on Twitter, Facebook, and what not, where your favorite romance authors (and we hope, you, too!) will post a selfie with their first or favorite historical romance novel. And so far, my selfies all ended up looking really dreadful. (More suitable for Halloween, really…)

Selfies are, of course, nothing new. Back in the day before smartphones & cameras they were called self-portraits (and they tended to look fab!) (oh well, but then we typcially only get to see the self-portraits of, you know, real artists instead of those done by amateurs). Some of them are very serious (and done in oil), others are far more cheeky – and naturally, self-portraits by the artists of Punch tend to fall into the latter category.

One of my favorite staff portraits in the magazine itself is the border for the preface to volume 7 from 1844. It was done by Richard Doyle and shows the writers and artists bringing their offerings to Mr. Punch:

Selfie from British magazine Punch
Between Mr. Punch and Toby, his dog, you can see Mark Lemon, the editor, and (I think) one of the publishers, while behind Toby the artists and writers are queuing and waiting to hand over their work. The short guy at the front is probably John Leech, followed by Thackeray (tall + curls + small, round spectacles = super-easy to recognize!) and, at the far end of the queue, by Dicky Doyle himself, holding a gigantic pencil.

Kinda cute, isn’t it?

Well, the same cannot be said about my own selfies, I’m afraid, even though I have a smartphone with a camera and don’t even have to sketch my portrait. But…


Sandra Schwab's Horrible Selfie No. 1
The second attempt turned out even worse:

Sandra Schwab's Horrible Selfie No 3
And the third attempt… At least I managed to keep my eyes open. That’s progress, right???

Sandra Schwab's Horrible Selfie No 2
But still not particularly, er, nice. *sigh*

So I’m coming to you, hoping that you might have some tips for me how to improve my selfie-taking skills before this weekend so that I won’t end up traumatizing the rest of the world with my truly bad selfies. HALP!!!!!

And, of course, I hope you’ll join us on Saturday for the #FallBackInTime event and post your own selfies with historicals that you particularly enjoyed or that started your love affair with the genre. 🙂

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