Monday, October 08, 2012

Retreat Guest Blogger Mia Marlow

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Mia Marlowe’s work has been featured in PEOPLE magazine. One of her books is on display at the Museum of London Docklands. Her TOUCH OF A ROGUE was named one of the Top Ten Romances for Spring by Publishers Weekly. But the accolades she really loves come from her readers. 


Georgian Era Rock Stars


Move over, Kate Middleton! Eat your heart out, Paris Hilton! Courtesans were the original prey of the paparazzi. These darlings of the London tabloids provided the cartoonists of their day with juicy on dits and outrageous exploits to lampoon. My heroine Daisy in HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT thinks she’s struck gold when she uncovers a French courtesan’s very candid journal. 

Here’s why. These high flyers flaunted convention and lived a life of freedom few women of their day could imagine. Top-tier 'birds of paradise' demanded and received generous stipends, clothing allowances, jewels, houses, a box at the opera and endless diversions from their well-placed protectors. When the relationship ran its course, these astute businesswomen often had negotiated an annuity to comfort them in retirement. 
    
A few even managed to marry their wealthy and powerful patrons. After a ten year affair, Mrs. Elizabeth Armistead wed Charles James Fox, a well-connected Member of Parliament, in 1795. However, the scandalous marriage was kept secret until 1802.

So what did a courtesan do?
Other than the obvious. 
Buy the book: Kindle or Nook
She most likely slept till noon. Folk of quality always kept late hours and a courtesan mimicked the nobility as much as possible in lifestyle and deportment. She'd rise and have a leisurely breakfast en suite, probably a pot of chocolate and a plate of scones. She'd read the tabloids, hoping for a mention. Like men who often kept their eyes peeled for a younger, more beautiful companion, a courtesan hoped to entice an ever more wealthy, politically well-connected patron. 
In the 18th century, childbed was no light matter. And pregnancy would interfere with a courtesan's ability to be an ornament to her patron's arm. So a clever courtesan would be armed with the best available contraceptives of the day. Condoms, also known as French letters or English Riding Coats, were originally made of fine linen and later from sheep entrails. They were designed to be cleaned and re-used. (I know. Ew!)

Some women used oral remedies--seeds of Queen Anne’s lace, pennyroyal, giant fennel, and many other concoctions as contraceptives or methods of inducing miscarriage--but these were often dangerous or even fatal brews. Bearing the child in a obscurity and then fostering it out was the usual solution to an unwanted pregnancy.
The main difference between a common prostitute and a top-tier courtesan was her education. Refined, possessed of exquisite taste, these women knew how to entertain both in and out of the boudoir. They weren't necessarily the greatest beauties of their age, but they were without doubt the wittiest, most engaging company. At the opening of most chapters in HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT I've included a quote from Mlle. La Tour's memoirs. Here are a few of her observations:


“There comes a point in every chase when the vixen must slow her pace, lest the 
hound lose the scent.”

“Anticipation is the whetstone of desire.”

“It is said the gods asked the Greek sage Tiresias which gender had the most capacity for pleasure during the act of love. “Women,” he answered.
And was promptly blinded for his candor.” 


Let's chat:
Imagine you’re a famous courtesan. What advice would you share with my heroine? 




75 comments:

brandi said...

I love the title!!! Finally a book that is not centered around a Duke :) Can't wait to put it on my tbr list!

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Brandi. Actually Lucian breaks another hero sterotype too. He's a virgin at the beginning of the story, but he's very willing to learn!

Christine Mead said...

I love Mia's books and can't wait to read this one!

Lorna said...

My advice would be - no matter what happens in life, be true to yourself.

Looks like it will. E a good read!

Lorna said...

My advice would be - no matter what happens in life, be true to yourself.

Looks like it will. E a good read!

Serena Zane said...

I love anything with a bit of history and lots of love! The cover is amazing and makes me want to devour this book. Best of luck with sales!

Suzan Tisdale said...

Just added to my TBR list! ;o) Love Mia's books and her writing style. ;o) Keep up the great work!

Suzan

Neomie Lemke said...

Can hardly wait to read it. I recently became a fan of historical romance and I love the sound of this one!

Barbara Hicks said...

My advice to the heroine is that it is ok to want to be with the hero.

brandi said...

Mia, OMG!!! I have to move this up to the top of my list!!! I love when writers go a whole different direction!!

KJ said...

Mia, I amazed at the attention to detail in your novels. Do you like doing the research? And do you need to travel to the UK to do much of it?

MiaMarlowe said...

Ooops, I got a little behind because I was tweeting. Thanks for those kind words about my books, Christine!

Alyn said...

I have always been curious about the life of a courtesan and your post helped me understand a little bit more about them so thank you!

MiaMarlowe said...

Lorna--Excellent advice, courtesan or not!

MiaMarlowe said...

Serena--I'm a sucker for historical romance too. Nothing else takes me away like a hero in tall boots!

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Suzan. Back at ya!

MiaMarlowe said...

Neomie--What a lovely name you have. I collect unusual names and may use yours someday. So glad to hear you love historical romance. HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT is really two stories in one. First you have the main love affair between Daisy and Lucian as they search for a lost Roman treasure. Then I tucked in a bit about the love between Caius Meritus, a freedman who hid the Roman treasure in the first place, and Deirdre, a Celtic slavegirl who steal his heart.

MiaMarlowe said...

Barb, is that you, Bad Barb? If so, I really need to figure out a time to join your chat again some month. I'd love to visit with that gang again.

Beth said...

Advice wow thats tough because you are a business women but your business is your heart really. Very tough, go after what will make you happy. - BethR

Mybradybunch6 said...

Is the book only on Kindle or Nook? I would love to have a paper copy.

MiaMarlowe said...

Brandi--I enjoy taking a standard trope and standing it on its head. For exampled in my latest Brava release, TOUCH OF A SCOUNDREL, it's my heroine who's the scoundrel. She's a con artist who intends to bilk the hero's brother out of a small fortune. As you might imagine, her plans change over the course of the story...

MiaMarlowe said...

KJ, I'm sort of a history junkie. I love discovering odd things that happen and incorporating them into my work. The premise for WAKING UP WITH A RAKE is based on an actual historical event called--can you believe it?--the "Hymen Race Terrific! Check out the details on my website

MiaMarlowe said...

KJ--I have been to England several times. Fascinating country!

mary f said...

Yes it is the original Bad Barb. my advice Be true to yourself.

the book sounds like a fun read

MiaMarlowe said...

Alyn--They were unusual women for their time. If you're interested in learning more about courtesans, I'd recommend Jo Manning's MY LADY SCANDALOUS.

KJ said...

Mia,

I'm a fellow NECRWA member. I have several of your books and their coming to the top of my pile of reading...I read on the train to Boston. I try not to show any emotion when I'm reading lest people think I'm crazy, but sometimes you just can't help it...the writing is so good (LOL)

Shelly said...

Interesting topic!! I'm not sure what advice I would give - maybe, don't put all your eggs in one basket -- she should have a nest egg for when her youth has gone... looks like I'm on an egg kick!! haha

MiaMarlowe said...

Beth--Good advice! Happiness is all it's cracked up to be.

KJ said...

Sorry for the spelling errors, I'm suffering from insomnia the last few days

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

What interesting history. I love reading about these little tidbits.

MiaMarlowe said...

Mybradybunch6--Unfortunately, HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT is only available for Kindle or Nook. Let me just share that I used to be a paper book purist. Never thought I'd get hooked on an ereader. Then I got a smart phone. Since I live in a small condo, ebooks make so much sense. Plus I get to carry my library around in my pocket! You might look into downloading the free Kindle or Nook softward onto your computer. It really is easy to use.

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Mary F! Are you part of Bad Barb's online chatgroup?

MiaMarlowe said...

KJ--I'm hoping to make it to the next NECRWA meeting. I've had a string of bad luck the last few months that have kept me home. It's such a great group!

And don't worry about typos. My DH says a smart person can think of 2 or 3 good ways to spell anything!

mary f said...

Yes I am, but not lately babysitting commitments. It certainly is an entertaining bunch of people

MiaMarlowe said...

Shelly--The smart courtesans did plan for their retirement by contracting with their patrons for pensions or real estate as part of their settlement when the relationship ended. No wide-eyed innocents, they got it down in writing!

MiaMarlowe said...

Tammie! How lovely to connect with you again. I wonder if you're receiving review copies from my publishers. If not, please email me through <a href="http://www.miamarlowe.com:>my website</a> and I'll send you my new releases for review.

MiaMarlowe said...

Mary F--I still remember meeting "Thumper" at a bookstore in St. Louis after a chat. What fun!

mary f said...

It's fun to put a face with a name isn't it? I've met Barb LOL

robertsonreads said...

Hi Mia,
Welcome to ORR. This is my first time to ORR, so nice of Lucy to pull this together.
My advice would be to put some money, jewelry away for later, down the road. I know, very pratical, that would be me.
Also, always remember, or I would think, that this is a job, watch your emotions getting too involved.
Ginger

MiaMarlowe said...

Ginger--ORR is nothing short of brilliant, but then I'd expect nothing less from Lucy!

I first met our illustrious host at an Eastside RWA meeting years ago. She'd been published for a couple years and already had a dozen or so titles out. She was so very inspirational to a newbie wannabe like me.

MiaMarlowe said...

Mary F--I met Barb this summer at RWA or maybe it was at RT. That's how I recognized her pic!

Shelly said...

And women were considered the "weaker" sex.... HA!

MiaMarlowe said...

Listen, gang, I have to run pick up my DH at work, but I'll be back soon and I WILL respond to every single comment, even if my time has expired.

Thanks so much for participating in ORR. I hope you have a wonderful time and be sure to come back to visit with my buddy Kris Kennedy later today.

Oh! and some friends of mine and I am hosting one of the gamenight events at Rock*It Reads. The Grand Prize is a NOOK Color! See you there!

Back in a few...

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Imagine you’re a famous courtesan. What advice would you share with my heroine?

Oh man I would have no idea what advice to give.

KJ said...

Mia I just downloaded "How to Vex a Viscount"...looks like I'll have some more insomnia tonight (LOL)

Carol L. said...

Hi Mia, I have loved everything you've written . And I loved Lucian, he was my first Hero Virgin. lol
Advice to a Courtesan, hmmm I don't know what the heck advice I could give.Maybe Let him think he's the expert and never let him see you grimace. lol lol I really don't know.
Carol L.

debraaparmley said...

My advice would be - remember to put a little money aside for that rainy day.

Mia, I'm intrigued by the search for Roman treasure in your story. Looks like the to be read list is going to get a bit longer. :-)

Elizabeth H. said...

Love this cover! I agree with Lorna on the advice, be true to yourself!

MiaMarlowe said...

Raonaid-Another unusual lovely name. Does it have Celtic roots? How do you pronounce it?

MiaMarlowe said...

KJ--Bless your heart! I'm always so honored and humbled when people plunk down their hard-earned money to read my books. Thanks so much. I look forward to hearing what you think.

MiaMarlowe said...

Carol--Lucian says he's honored to have been your "first." ;-)

MiaMarlowe said...

Debra--I always like to give my lovers a little mystery to solve. The search for a Roman treasure seemed like a reasonable one since there has been so many Roman artifacts in Great Britain.

MiaMarlowe said...

Elizabeth--Thanks. I love my covers too. If you'd like to see more of them, I invite you to hope over to my BOOKS page to check out all my lovelies!

MiaMarlowe said...

Lucy--Thanks so much for having me on your blog! This was great fun.

Linda Henderson said...

Have fun and live life to the fullest.

MiaMarlowe said...

Words to live by, Linda!

sheryl said...

I have added to my TBR list! I can't wait to read this story.

Debby said...

I have added this to my list. I think the life of a courtesan would be very tough. They should get an annuity.

Lexi H said...

Whohoo! People! Well done Mia. I don't read it so I missed it, but how exciting regardless!

If I were a courtisan I would be having too much fun to give advice! No, really I would ask if she wanted to become rich. Yes? Then shoot for the old men. Or is she doing this for the thrill, a little rebeillion and getting the most out of life...then take your pick of the young eligibles.

Jen B. said...

I just finished reading Touch of a Thief earlier today. I am looking forward to reading more of your books. If I was talking to a courtesan I would tell her to read Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey and then don't do anything that Phedre does!

Z said...

Man do I miss Borders, I haven't had the luck to come across your book at Walmart sine we no longer have a bookstore, *sigh*, the title is catchy. My advice would not to be to easy to catch, after all what cat whats the canary who just sits there, they like the chase. Then when you let him catch you it can be on your terms.
Z

June M. said...

I think the biggest thing for Courtesans would be to not fall in love with your clients/protectors. Although it makes for a great romance story, I am sure that it rarely ended well IRL for these ladies.

Chelsea said...

This sounds like a great book & the cover looks really good as well. I am adding this book to my TBR list.

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Mia!

Yes! Raonaid is actually Scots Gaelic for my birthname (Rachel). I needed a penname and I remember seeing Raonaid!

It's pronounced Reun-eetch

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Sheryl! Hope you love my Viscount.

MiaMarlowe said...

Debby, thanks for adding my work to your TBR list! I'm honored.

MiaMarlowe said...

Lexi, one of the nice things about an ebook, which HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT is, is that it never drops off the shelf. It's always there, always ready to be discovered by a reader. Hope you love it.

MiaMarlowe said...

Jen, glad you enjoyed TOUCH OF A THIEF! I'll have to look for that Carey book.

MiaMarlowe said...

Z, I miss Borders too. Heavy sigh. The books I write with Connie Mason usually make it into Walmart. Look for WAKING UP WITH A RAKE in Jan 2013 at your local Walmart!

MiaMarlowe said...

June M--You're right. Unless they were cagey about their financial future, courtesans were likely to die poor and sadly, alone.

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Chelsea. Hope you love my Viscount! Lucian was a fun hero to write. He's very driven, and all alpha despite being a virgin. ;-)

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks for that clarification, Raonaid!

flchen1 said...

Wow, Mia! Great cover! As for advice for a courtesan? I imagine that it would be to guard your heart and self--it would be very difficult to continually give yourself away!

MiaMarlowe said...

flchen1--Thanks. I love my covers too! Your advice really speaks to something I try to incorporate into my books--that it's impossible to separate your body from your spirit and your heart. The act of love does involve giving away a piece of yourself. Every time.

joder said...

I would recommend saving as much money while you still attract protectors so you can live comfortably in your latter years. The life of a courtesan can be short-lived after all.

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