31 July 2014

Throwback Thursday: ISO The Scottish Chiefs and a bit of family lore

I love reading about Scottish lairds and ladies, be they historical, paranormal, or contemporary tales. Give me a shifter in kilts, as in Vonnie Davis or Terry Spear’s recent titles, and I’m a very happy girl!

Reflecting on this love of all things Scottish, I realized that one of the first sweeping historical books I ever read was The Scottish Chiefs by Miss Jane Porter. I used to borrow this book from my school library each year to reread the fictionalized sweeping history of William Wallace.

I remember loving this book, not just because of the engrossing story, but because of the illustrations that swept my imagination to the Scottish Highlands. I’d hear swards clash. Smell the fields of heather. Speak with a bit of a brogue myself when disturbed from reading. Yes, this book just captured my imagination and would not let go.

In recalling this, I was of course curious to reread The Scottish Chiefs now. I found that Project Guttenberg does offer a free digital version, but it’s not the edition that captured my attention as a young teen. Nor was Fiona Price's new edition or the Library of Alexandria's version quite the same.

The Scottish Chiefs I remember had illustrations by N.C. Wyeth and an introduction by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Normally I'm a bit more fluid in my acceptance of updates, but I must admit to desiring the magic of those illustrations set against Porter's 1810 story that so captured my imagination. I could purchase a physical copy of this book from Amazon, as there were several used versions (paperback and hardcover) of this edition available, but no digital one with the N.C. Wyeth illustrations.

Deep sigh.

Then I decided to check OpenLibrary.org and once again found success there. Great success. Not only was there a copy, with N.C. Wyeth illustrations, but it was available as a direct, send to Kindle eBook   (https://openlibrary.org/books/OL13445329M/The_Scottish_chiefs). Yes, this was the first OpenLibrary book that I did not receive as an ePub to read on my iPad, but was able to send directly to Kindle from Amazon so I can read it on my HDX and Paperwhite.

Unimaginable success and happiness!

I’ll be reading The Scottish Chiefs sometime soon. Perhaps bits at a time, but I’m already leafing through it on my to see the much-loved and remembered illustrations.

A bit of a side trip to North Wales

In searching for The Scottish Chiefs, other stories ... family stories ... began to clamor to make themselves heard in my consciousness. When I read about Edward - Wallace's mortal enemy - I remembered my Nana telling tales about our Welsh ancestors. From what she had said, I recalled some arrived in Wales as Edward's emissaries, while others fought against him. (You might say my family was and is complicated!)

I've always wanted to research my family's history, not so much for genealogical reasons, but because there are so many wonderful stories about them. My Nana was the keeper of these stories and, as she was my babysitter for many afternoons while my mother worked, she told me all kinds of wonderful tales. But she never wrote them down.

When I look back on that time, I remember sitting there on summer afternoons after watching soap operas with her, listening and absorbing facts about pretty remarkable men and women, whom she brought to life. No one else in my family had much interest in this, so years later, I'd research for a bit and then, other priorities would take over.

Visiting North Wales the ancestral home of one branch of the family was inspirational. Many of the people Nana had given life to still resided there, not physically, but in memories of the inhabitants. Many of the places the family lived still stood, but the last family direct member had died a few years earlier. Though I'm sure many cousins, many times removed, also were about.

When I returned to the states I researched a bit at the NYPL. I loved going there, filling out the call slips, and reading each page carefully making notes in pencil from books that were, well, rare.

I haven't done much research about this this in quite a few years, but thought today, I would just Google a bit. Several hours later, I'm amazed because many of the books I used for primary research are available through Google books, with several downloadable for free as ebooks or PDFs, while others are computer reads only.

Perhaps it is now time to tell the story of this family that's been begging for my attention for so long. Thanks to a detailed genealogy that someone posted, I finally was able to exactly trace how some of the more illustrious relatives that populated the family tales were related to my direct ancestor. I always thought Nana exaggerated, but she hadn't.

I adore the fact that my direct ancestor, who came over with Governor Nicholls, was the winner of the first sporting trophy in America in a horse race at Hempsted. The family romance of that story is that his daughter (my ancestress), years later, married the heir of that Dutch silversmith. I have a few examples of his father's work and it is amazingly beautiful.

Perhaps its because my Nana was able to bring these people to such vivid life that I feel almost their physical presence when I think of them. I’m not sure if how successful I’ll be, but I think in the next year or so, their story may emerge on paper. I hope that makes them happy!

Now, if only the Welsh wore kilts!

30 July 2014

Wicked Wednesday Quiz: Which Type of Historical Romance Heroine Are You?

Are you ROYAL, an OPERATIVE, or member of a RETINUE? 

Take this fun quiz and find out what type of historical romance heroine you might be. 

Make sure to add these fun and fabulous titles by Grace Burrowes, Katie MacAlister, and Shana Galen to your bookshelf to find out how your historical heroine fares.

Quiz: Which Type of Historical Romance Heroine Are You?

#1 What word best describes you?

a) effervescent
b) nonconfrontational (mostly)
c) stealthy

#2 My favorite hobby is ...

a) comparative study of the male form
b) looking after my darling baron
c) target practice

#3 What is the perfect late night snack?

a) bread, cheese, meats, lemon tarts … whatever can be liberated from the kitchen
b) the baron's kisses
c) ratafia, shaken not stirred

#4 My ideal man must have ...

a) a sublime derriere
b) an aptitude for growing hardy, contrary flowers
c) brains

#5 What accessory do you never leave home without?

a) my corset (large bosoms are such a trial)
b) my composure
c) my pistol

If you choose mostly As ... then you are as sparkling and resourceful as Her Serene Royal Highness Dagmar from The Truth About Leo by Katie MacAlister. Dagmar may have been raised in a strictly formal manner, but she’s never let that stop her from pursuing anything that catches her interest. She’s a bit quirky, marches to her own drummer, and has a fine, fine appreciation of the manly form.

If you choose mostly Bs … then you are clearly the stuff a baroness is made of, much like Millicent, from The Traitor by Grace Burrowes. Milly is sweet, fierce, determined, and brave but slow to trust. Sebastian, Baron St. Clair, is ALSO sweet, fierce, determined and brave, and relentless when it comes to protecting those he cares for. Alas for both Sebastian and Milly, an enemy stalks them who is not sweet. By the time Milly is done with Sebastian's enemies, they are not very brave either. So if you chose mostly B's, the bad guys better steer mighty clear of you!

If you choose mostly Cs then you are equipped to be a master spy like Jane Bonde from Love and Let Spy by Shana Galen. Jane is smart, cunning, and loyal, but she has her weaknesses too. Her latest weakness goes by the name Dominic Griffyn. Planning a wedding and defeating a villain intent upon the destruction of England is tricky, but if you're the sort who multitasks easily, then you too have Jane's unique skills and panache.



THE TRAITOR (Captive Hearts #2) by Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks Casablanca | ISBN 9781402294990 | $7.99 | Pub Date: Aug 5, 2014

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes delivers a passionate, danger-filled Regency romance...

The past will overtake him...
Abandoned in France since boyhood, despite being heir to an English barony, Sebastian St. Clair makes impossible choices to survive a tour of duty in the French Army. He returns to England hoping for the peaceful life of a country gentleman, though old enemies insist on challenging him on the field of honor, one after another.

But this time, he will not fight alone...
Millicent Danforth desperately needs her position as companion to the Traitor Baron's aunt, but grieves to learn that Sebastian must continually fight a war long over. As Sebastian and Milly explore their growing passion, they uncover a plot that will cost Sebastian his life and his honor, unless he does battle once more-this time in the name of love.

LOVE AND LET SPY (Lord and Lady Spy Book #3) by Shana Galen
Sourcebooks Casablanca | ISBN 9781402291739 | $7.99 | Pub Date: Aug 5, 2014

Her name is Bonde, Jane Bonde...
A beautiful and eligible member of the ton, Jane has more than a few secrets: she's one of the Crown's most elite agents. She may be deadly, but she doesn't know a thing about fashion, flirtation, or love...until Dominic Griffyn shakes up her carefully stirred world and asks her to be his bride. He's exactly the kind of man she's not looking for. And he's dangerous, because falling into his arms is so much more satisfying than saving England from her enemies.

He's an improper gentleman who needs a wife...
Tall, dark, and tortured, Dominic Griffyn is haunted by demons from his past. When his stepfather insists that he marry, Dominic allows himself to hope that the beautiful but mysterious Miss Bonde might help him forget his troubles. As they grow closer, it's clear that there's more to Jane than danger. She might be just what his neglected heart needs.

Praise for Lord and Lady Spy:
"Lively, utterly delightful adventure romance." -RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

THE TRUTH ABOUT LEO (Noble series #4) by Katie MacAlister
Sourcebooks Casablanca | ISBN 9781402294457 | $7.99 | Pub Date: Aug 5, 2014

The much-anticipated, brand-new Regency romance from New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister.

Can Dagmar flee Denmark
Dagmar Marie Sophie is a poverty-stricken Danish princess whose annoying royal cousin is about to have her stuffed away in a convent. When she finds a wounded man unconscious in her garden, she sees a way out of her desperate situation.

By Lying to Leo?
Leopold Ernst George Mortimer, seventh earl of March, and spy in the service of the king, finds himself on the wrong end of a saber and left for dead. He wakes up not remembering what happened...in the care of a beautiful woman who says she is his wife.

Back in London, Leo-with the help of his old friends the eccentric Britton family-sets out to unravel what he's forgotten... Is Dagmar truly the wonderful, irrepressible woman who makes his heart sing, or is she a dangerous enigma bent on his destruction?