The Sculptures of Chatsworth

I’m missing England again and remembering Kristine Hughes Patrone‘s and my three days at Chatsworth.

William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire and Georgiana’s son, was a great collector of art. He prized classical sculpture, but most of the pieces had already been snapped up by the wealthy aristocracy years before. So the Duke commissioned contemporary sculptors to create statues in the classical style. These and other 19th century sculptures comprise the Statue Gallery at Chatsworth.

Here’s a peek:

And the beautiful Veiled Vestal Virgin by Raffaelle Monti, 1846

I want to go back and see it all again!

Resolution

Is February  too late for a New Year’s resolution?

I am resolving to resume my Thursday blogging. I went on a long hiatus, but I resolve to do better.

I plan to continue sharing interesting Regency research items, writing news, and snippets from my travels and everyday life.

This year, on March 21, the fourth book in my Scandalous Summerfields series, Bound By Their Secret Passion, will be released, telling Lorene and Dell’s story. I must admit I’m a little sad to see this series come to an end.

I’ve also been involved in a special project for Harlequin Historical. More on that in later days!

I’m also planning to join my friend, Kristine Hughes Patrone, of Number One London Tours,  on one of the fantastic tours she has planned for 2017.

Here’s the list:

The Regency Tour
including tours of Regency London, Brighton, the Royal Pavilion, Polesden Lacey, the Regency Townhouse and Buckingham Palace.

The 1815 Tour: London to Waterloo
First the sights and experiences of Regency London, including Apsley House, Wellington’s London home, and a special 1815 tour of the V&A. Then on to Brussels and Waterloo with acclaimed author Ian Fletcher.

A Week At the Lake
Tours of the country houses of the Lake District. Cruises on two of the lakes. Even a steam railroad journey.

The Queen Victoria Tour
Tours of Victorian London, Brighton and Windsor to see Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Royal Pavilion, Windsor Castle, Osborne House, Frogmore House, and more.

A Stay In The Cotswolds
Tours of Blenheim Palace, Sizencote House and Sudeley Castle. Visits to Stratford Upon Avon, Winchcombe and Stow on Wold, Oxford and Highgrove.

The Country House Tour
Visits to Wentworth Woodhouse, Sutton Scarsdale, Sudbury Hall, Calke Abbey, Kedleston Hall, Hardwicke Hall, Haddon Hall, Chatsworth House and Tatton Park.
And more.

The Scottish Castles Tour
Visits to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House, Inverary Castle, Glamis Castle, Blair Castle and Stirling Castle, an afternoon cruise on Loch Lomond, shopping
at the House of Bruar. And more.

Don’t they all sound fabulous?

I’m not sure which one I’m going on (or which two!) but I’m definitely going!

Which one would you pick?

Release Day!

Bound By A Scandalous Secret is released today!

Genna’s story begins in the Christmas season of 1815 and ends at Christmas 1816. The gifts Genna and Ross share on that first Christmas are meaningful, but not valuable.

When I strive to give gifts, I always hope to make them meaningful, but I’m rarely successful, so I was pleased I could make Genna and Ross’s gifts so.

You know, books make great Christmas gifts. Feel free to give a friend or relative Bound By A Scandalous Secret.  Or treat yourself!

In many ways, this book is about giving and expecting nothing in return. That’s pretty much the essence of love, isn’t it?

Preston Manor

While Kristine Hughes Patrone and I were in Brighton this past May, we visited Preston Manor, a near-by historic house dating back to the 13th century, but rebuilt in the 1700s and the early 1900s. The house was restored to this latest incarnation, the Edwardian period.

It was interesting for many reasons. For one, from the outside it reminded us of a shabby New Jersey Banquet Hall.
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Unlike the Great Houses we had seen on the trip–Chatsworth, Kedelston Hall, the Pavillion, Apsley House–Preston Manor was a more ordinary house, the sort of house gentry might live in. One could easily imagine a family living in this house.
Lady’s bedroom
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Maid’s room
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Parlor
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Instead of fine art, Preston Manor had items of lesser value and lots of collections.
Of figurines
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Chinese Buddhist lions
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Even paintings of pet dogs
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While we were visited, there was a special exhibition on witchcraft and on Doreen Valiente, the mother of modern witchcraft who had lived nearby.
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Preston Manor was also said to be the most haunted house in Brighton, featuring a white lady, disembodied heads and hands, and lights turning on and off. Luckily we did not experience any ghostly phenomenon, just some school children learning about life in the early 1900s by making food in the kitchen.
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It was another lovely England experience!

New Books!

Pre-order for Bound By A Scandalous Secret, Book 3 of the Scandalous Summerfields, is available now. The paperback is released November 22; the Ebook is December 1.

Bound By Their Secret Passion is the title of Book 4 of the Scandalous Summerfields. The final book in the series–Lorene’s story– is coming in 2017.

Cat Chronicles

Starting in late April we had a horrible flea infestation (with INDOOR cats!) that just stretched on through June and set in motion some awful events.

IM000094The flea problem just exacerbated our old cat’s health problems until we decided one day that he was just suffering too much. So we had him put to sleep. This lovely fellow had always been a very special cat with so much personality. He was 19 years old.

IMG_0028You might remember that last November we had to have the Cat-Who-Lives-On-The-Kitchen-Table put to sleep and that the pain of that was eased by our adoption of two kittens that my daughter-in-law rescued from a feral mother cat.

The gray tabby kitten (now a year old) became ill, probably from something flea-bearing, but we didn’t catch it in time and suddenly she was very sick. A week after our old guy left us, we had to have the gray tabby put to sleep. This was the most wrenching decision of all, because we could have tried to save her, but at great expense and with no guarantee. And if we’d not waited so long….

IMG_1187I couldn’t bear to think of the other rescued kitten having no one to play with, so the very next day we went to the shelter and adopted this kitten (“Spot”), three months old and another gray tabby.

She’s been a godsend. She’s lively, friendly, and playful, and the black-and-white kitten loves her. Even our old remaining cat (“Devil Cat”) has taken to her. He rarely hisses when she plays with his tail or tries to chase him.

So, once again we have three cats. The young ones have been such a joy, but it has been an awful, wrenching time to get to this happy place.

"Devil Cat"
“Devil Cat”
Black-and-White Kitten
Black-and-White Kitten
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“Spot”

 

Southwark

On our last day in England, Kristine Hughes Patrone of Number One London Tours and I took a water taxi on the Thames from our hotel to Southwark where the Mills and Boon offices are located.  The taxi ride itself was amazing, seeing sights like this one:
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We had time to kill so we explored Southwark, wandering in to Southwark Cathedral:
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Then we walked through Borough Market:
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And past a pirate ship!
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And wound up at 1 London Bridge Street in The News Building where we were warmly greeted!
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Afterward my editors took us to a formal tea for lunch, a truly lovely time!

Derby and Kedelston Hall

On my England trip with Kristine Hughes Patrone of Number One London Tours, we stopped in Derby. Kristine was thinking about using a hotel in Derby as the main place to stay during her upcoming country house tours, but the city wasn’t really quite what we had in mind.

It did have a lovely cathedral, though:

And a short distance away we discovered Kedelston Hall.
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Kedelston Hall has been the country seat of the Curzon family since the 1200s. The Curzons were the second most wealthy landowners in Derbyshire, second only to the Cavendishes–the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth. (To hear about our visit to Chatsworth, see my Risky Regencies Post.)

Sir Nathanial Curzon, later Baron Scarsdale, commissioned the house in 1759. The architects he originally hired designed the house in the Palladian style, but Curzon fired them and hired a relatively new architect to complete the house. The new architect was Robert Adam.

Robert Adam designed a beautiful neoclassical building and continued to design the interior in that style. The state rooms are beautiful examples of Adams’ use of decorative plasterwork, symmetry, and color.
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He also designed the gardens.
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Especially lovely about Kedelston Hall were the docents in each room. All we had to do was say, “Tell us about this room” and they told us everything, including some secrets hidden behind the walls!

It was a lovely day and a lovely surprise!