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Did you know there is Regency gold in J. D. Robb’s world? In the paranormal anthology Bump in the Night, Mary Blayney’s novella is just that!

It’s fitting that I talk about Poppy’s Coin right after Mother’s Day, because Lindsay, the hero of the story, is both “mother” and “father” to two orphaned children, dealing with such crises as a “pea up the nose” that can only resonate with any mom. He’s really terrific at it, too.

Lindsay, unfortunately, is nearly destitute and desperate to find some means of supporting his two children. A Waterloo hero, he pins all his hopes on selling his commission, not an easy task in peacetime. Then his daughter Poppy hands him a magic coin. He makes a wish for work that is satisfying and pays an impressive wage. Shortly thereafter, Lady Grace Anderson, a beautiful young widow, hires him to be her escort for the season. This scheme works very well for both of them–until love interferes.

I’m a great fan of Mary’s Regencies – Captain’s Mermaid, His Last Lover, His Heart’s Delight, The Pleasure of His Company, A Husband for Mama – all have delighted me. Her characters ring true as “real” people, with both flaws and strengths and their love stories always shine with a quiet gentle grace.

Mary does a particularly wonderful job writing children and I am certain you will be charmed by little Poppy. In a few delicate strokes of the pen, Mary is able to convey the magical hopes and internal anxieties of a little girl who has lost her mother and never knew her real father. I loved her! Her innocent belief in Poppy’s Coin starts a timeless run of good luck!

Enjoy all the stories in Bump in the Night, but prepare for gold in Poppy’s Coin.

(He should be reading Poppy’s Coin!)



“We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .”

Happy Official Holiday for the Fourth Of July, Even Though It’s Only The Third!

There are certain inviolable rights that we take as Life Assumptions; I’m talking, of course, about knowing–and owning as part of one’s self–certain pop culture touchstones. Recently (i.e. yesterday), I was reminded of a truth I’d suppressed: That Carolyn Jewel, our newest Risky, had never seen North And South, the BBC mini-series based on an Elizabeth Gaskell book. It’s not set in the Regency (it’s Victorian), but it is otherwise perfectly suited for a historical romance fan.

Because, you know, it’s set in a historical period and is a romance.

Anyway, Carolyn will doubtless rectify that gap in her life soon, thanks to pressure from me and many other N&S fans who are on Twitter, but it got me to thinking about pop culture assumptions, and then into the Venn Diagram of romance novel assumptions. There are some people who grew up without TV (like me), and I don’t have that common vernacular of forty-somethings who grew up on a diet of ’70s television. There are romance readers who’ve never read Nora Roberts (also like me), or Lord of Scoundrels (NOT like me), or seen Romancing the Stone (me, again), or liked Ghost (guilty), or any of a countless other shared experiences that weren’t so shared after all. Just like we all know Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson, and Watergate, and chia pets, and Frankie Says Relax, we all assume we’ve read Nora, or seen certain iconic romantic movies or share the same opinions and assumptions about our books (for example, I am always startled when someone doesn’t love Lord of Scoundrels; I can accept it, but it stuns me for a minute or two).

What Romance Pop Culture Touchstone have you never experienced? Which of your Romance Pop Culture Touchstones are inviolable when it comes to discussing romance with others?

And happy Truth-Holding Day!


*See how concerned Richard Armitage is that Carolyn hasn’t viewed his John Thornton-ness?

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Last Friday, our local news reported a fire in a 200 year old historic building in Boonsboro, MD, a hotel that was under renovation. I knew instantly that this was the hotel Nora Roberts had purchased. She’d had these wonderful plans to decorate each of the six rooms with some romance theme featuring literary couples, like, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.

Read more about this here and see the horrific photos.

My heart goes out to Nora and the town of Boonsboro for this loss, but knowing Nora, she’ll find a way to rebuild.

I started thinking about fire in “our” period. How easy it must have been for fires to start when the heating, cooking, and lighting was by flame.

Here is an account of a fire from the 1814 Annual Register:

January 19, 1814
Fire in St. Paul’s Churchyard
About a quarter past six o’clock yesterday morning, a fire was discovered by foot-passengers in St. Paul’s Churchyard, who knocked violently for a time, but none of the family of Mr. Biggs was made to hear. At length the door was forced, when the flames burst out with such fury, to prevent anyone from alarming the family upstairs, but which at length was done by the ringing of the bells, and crying out “fire, fire.” Mrs. Biggs with an infant in her arms, and a servant maid, got first out of the house…the feelings of the mother were too much alive for the safety of her other five children, to admit of a moment’s delay, and it is supposed that she would have returned and rushed into the flames in search of them, had she not fainted dead away…So rapid were the flames on this unfortunate occasion, that no other person except a servant with another of Mrs. Bigg’s children succeeded in getting out the door by the door. We have accounted for only two of Mrs. Bigg’s six children, the eldest of whom, a son, was only nine years of age.

How terribly sad this is. I can feel the emotions of that poor mother at such a time.

Another terrible mishap was the occurance of clothing catching fire. Woman were most at risk with their long dresses. Gillray (1802) satirizes this in his Advantages of Muslin Dresses

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow grew his beard after being scarred trying to save his wife when her dress caught fire from a match.

Two famous fires near “our” time period:

1809 fire destroying Drury Lane theatre, owned at the time by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who sat at a nearby inn, watching the building devoured by flames. He quipped, “It was hard if a man could not drink a glass of wine by his own fire.”

Burning of Washington, in 1814.

Dolly Madison’s courage in rescuing the portrait of George Washington from the White House made a big impression on me as a child, so much so I named my favorite doll after her.

I’ve never been in a fire. When I was seven and we lived in Japan where my father was stationed, a dog kennel caught fire nearby and we could see the flames from our house. The fear of the fire spreading was very real. In more recent years a co-worker’s house was destroyed by fire after the oil in a pan caught fire and quickly spread.

Have you ever been in a fire?
Do you think, as I do, that burning candles is too much of a fire risk to be worth it?

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Everyone, please welcome my good friend and wonderful Regency author, Mary Blayney, who joins us today to talk about her novella Amy and The Earl’s Amazing Adventure in the anthology Dead of Night with coauthors JD Robb/Nora Roberts, Mary Kay McComas, and Ruth Ryan Langan.

“…this all-new four-novella anthology definitely doesn’t suffer from standout single syndrome—this one’s all killer, no filler.” Publisher’s Weekly of Dead of Night

Mary is giving away one copy of Dead of Night, signed by ALL the authors. Just make a comment on this blog. We’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Hi, Mary!
What’s a nice Regency writer like you doing in an anthology with J.D. Robb?

How could I say no to an anthology with Nora Roberts (w/a JD Robb)? Especially when I was told that I could write anything I wanted as long as it had a paranormal element and would fit under the umbrella title. Admittedly my first novella “Poppy’s Coin” in Bump in the Night was not bumpy at all but I’m a fast learner and I took care of that in “Amy and the Earl.”

Tell us about Dead of Night, especially “Amy and the Earl’s Amazing Adventure.”

The anthology includes time travel, futuristic police procedural and a parallel world story. JD Robb is working with the fabulous Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke and a very nasty man claiming to be a vampire. Ruth’s Langan’s story is a time travel. Her contemporary heroine, Laurel, stumbles way back in time to meet the very alpha Conal MacLennan. Mary Kay McComas story is more parallel world than time travel. Bonnie rides a magic carpet to an alternate past, a chance to see what life would have been like with just a few changes.

In “Amy and the Earl’s Amazing Adventure,” Amy and Simon meet, not entirely by accident, and realize that they both are curious about the origins of a coin minted in 1810. The coin is the key element in my first novella “Poppy’s Coin” and Amy appeared in that story as the nameless tourist who hears how the coin changed the lives of my Regency lovers. The nameless girl was a sweetheart and I wanted to know more about her. Then Simon appeared, driven by a need to know how a coin minted in 1810 could be in a family portrait painted in 1805. When someone offers them the chance to time travel together they agree. The story spins out from there.

Is there a connection between the novellas?

No. I call it a “romance sampler” with something in it for every fan. It is a way to try a different genre without a big commitment of time or money.

As you said, Poppy’s Coin appears again in “Amy and the Earl’s Amazing Adventure.” How did you think of Poppy’s Coin?

My friend and talented writer, Lavinia Klein, gave me a coin known as “TheAdmiral Gardiner Shipwreck Coin,” one of thousands discovered when the ship, Admiral Gardiner, was recovered in 1985 off the Goodwin Sands beyond the Straits of Dover. The story of the ship and its cargo is fact and I included it in “Amy and the Earl,” then added my own paranormal twist. Is the coin magic? Not that I know of, but my writing career has changed dramatically since it came into my life. Which came first the chicken or the egg?

You have written some lovely Regencies, His Last Lover, The Pleasure of His Company and The Captain’s Mermaid. How was it to write contemporary characters, even if they did travel back to 1805?

It was a cross between great fun and real work. The chance to have characters speak in a contemporary voice was a great change of pace, especially when they were back in the Regency and using modern language leads to some confusion. On the other hand I am so much more familiar with the Regency world that writing characters immersed in the 21st century actually took some research. How’s that for a flip-flop?

What was risky about “Amy and the Earl’s Amazing Adventure?”

Without a doubt the riskiest thing was writing a story that was plot driven and not character driven. This is the first time I have ever tried it. The readers will have to tell me if it works.

I know you love the Regency. How come?

It is that moment in history when the world is on the cusp of change, when man is about to move from an agrarian society to an industrial one. When the individual begins to become more important than the group. I think that last transition is why marrying for love became acceptable. That is, what the individual wanted gradually became more important than what was good for the family. The tension of those two elements and the Napoleonic War make it an era filled with conflict on a level that ranges from international to interpersonal. And I love the clothes and the houses.

Did you come upon any interesting research for this novella?

You mean besides learning about 21st century men and woman? Yes, I researched the artists Guardi and Canaletto. In the process learning an interesting tidbit about Rembrandt that I used in the story. I also spent a lot of time with Google Earth and my Regency maps of London trying to find a locale that could be both a pub and a Regency town house. It was a great way to waste time, I mean research. Sure enough I found the perfect spot in a part of London I have actually visited.

What’s next for you?

At the end of January 2008, my first single title comes out. ­Traitor’s Kiss is the first of three books for Bantam. It is a family series and I am currently working on the second. Traitor’s Kiss features the youngest son of the five children of the Duke of Meryon. Lord Gabriel Pennistan went to Spain in 1811 as a man of science and wound up in a French prison, even though it is the English who consider him a spy and a murderer. He is rescued by the mysterious Charlotte Parnell. Each discovers the truth about the other as they escape from France. There is also a third anthology in the works and, yes, in this one the magic coin makes an appearance once again though it is essentially a ghost story. The umbrella title is Suite 606 and the title of my novella is (currently) “Love Endures

Thanks so much for inviting me to join the Riskies for the day. Hope to hear from lots of bloggers and am happy to offer as a prize a copy of Dead of Night autographed by all four of the authors.

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