Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Retreat Guest Blogger Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa Kelly was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance.  You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest and her blog



It’s Party Time in the Regency!

One of the fun things about writing historical romance is that you get to do some pretty cool research.  For my new book, His Mistletoe Bride, I spent quite a bit of time researching Christmas and holiday traditions of the Regency era.  Of course, many of the traditions that we now observe developed during Queen Victoria’s reign—thanks, in part, to Charles Dickens—but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some very festive holiday traditions celebrated during the Regency.

In His Mistletoe Bride, there are several scenes that recreate the parties and festivities of the holiday season, including one taking place on Twelfth Night.  This particular feast marks the coming of the Epiphany and the official end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  There were specific traditions to honor it, one of which was the serving of the Twelfth Night cake.  These cakes were usually massive confections, which had a bean and a pea baked inside.  Those who received slices of cake containing either one were designated the king and queen of the evening’s celebrations.

Here’s a short excerpt from His Mistletoe Bride, featuring my hero and heroine, Lucas and Phoebe, at the Twelfth Night Party at Mistletoe Manor.

The cake’s thick icing gleamed with a brilliant white in the blaze of the candles, and whimsical sugar figurines dotted the polished, two-tiered surface. The round base was elaborately trimmed with sugar flowers in a rainbow of pretty pastels, while a credible representation of the village church and a few of the local shops topped the cake off.

“Good Lord,” Lucas exclaimed. “Is that the village square on top of that monstrosity?”

“Yes,” Phoebe said proudly. “It was Cook’s idea. She did a splendid job, do you not think?”

Her husband laughed. “Actually, yes. It’s got everything but the village drunk.”

“Really, Lucas,” she responded primly. “Come along. It is time to take your seat on the Lord of Misrule’s throne.”

He frowned. “Why do you think I’m going to be Lord of Misrule? That’s a damned big cake, and there’s only one little bean baked into it. Anyone could find it and be appointed lord.”

She glanced over at Mrs. Christmas, who was cutting the first slice. “We decided to do things a bit differently this year. Given certain, ah, mishaps in the past, everyone will be handed slips of paper with their cake. He who receives the slip with the appropriate mark will be designated Lord of Misrule.”

“Hmm. I suppose someone got drunk and almost choked on the bean one year.”

She widened her eyes. “How did you know that?”

“It’s a fairly frequent occurrence. It happened to Robert once, and he wasn’t even in his cups. Almost went to his grave because of the damn thing. He’s only still with us thanks to his grandfather. The General slapped him on the back so hard he nearly knocked the poor lad into the next room.”

Phoebe had to laugh at the image. “Well, we want to avoid that sort of thing. Mrs. Christmas came up with the slips as a substitute.”

“Yes, but that still doesn’t explain why you think I’ll—”

Lucas broke off as Mrs. Christmas trundled toward them, carrying a plate. He directed a baleful look Phoebe’s way. “Tell me you are not doing this.”

She gave him a beatific smile in response.

He groaned. “On top of everything else, I must now be Lord of Misrule?”

“I am afraid so.”

Although many of us may no longer celebrate Twelfth Night, there are still lots of beloved holiday traditions carried over from the Regency and Victorian period.  What’s your favorite Christmas or holiday tradition?

Buy the book. 
BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE…

When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…

Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very



Let's chat:
Leave me a comment below, I'll be stopping by to chat with readers. 

35 comments:

calstephanie said...

Hi Vanessa. Great post! :)

Lettetia Elsasser said...

My dear Vanessa,
I was first introduced to your writing in An Invitation to Sin and have not missed a book yet. I am looking forward to reading your His Mistletoe Bride. The synopsis has intrigued me from the first time I read it; a Quaker American, what a delightful concept! Thanks to Lucy, we are fortunate to have you here to chat.

Z said...

Hello Vanessa
I love your cover and the color of the dress. I was reading your piece and I think I will make a Tweleth Night Cake, it sounds like so much fun. I'll be sure to warn everyone about the bean and pea, but what if two people of the same gender get them did one of the gentleman pass his cake to a lady?
Z

Shelly said...

Oh my....this book sounds great!! I'm putting it on my wishlist. I don't know if its a tradition, but my Christmas tree (when I put one up) must have a birdnest and a pinecone in it. I found a tiny birdsnest lined with horsehair when I was a kid & it has been on our tree ever since.

Neomie Lemke said...

Interesting post! I love hearing about older traditions that may have been lost over time.

ONE of My favorite Holiday traditions (there are many) is a Christmas morning family breakfast with my sisters, their spouses and kids. We eat drink mimosas and then watch the kids open presents! Makes my heart happy to see it all.

brandi said...

I love learning about the older ways to celebrate. Makes you wonder why they went away. I am definitely making your books part of my must read list.

Lorna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorna said...

I'm looking forward to this one!

When you are doing your research, what is your main source of information? Do you do a lot of research on the internet or do you use other sources?

brandi said...

My holiday tradition is to go to my parents either to spend the night before or early christmas for breakfast and our presents. Then off to a relative's for christmas eve.

Donna said...

My favorite holiday tradition is getting together with family and loved ones no matter the season.

brandi said...

pretty quiet today on the blogs

Jan Douglas said...

Christmas traditions. My favorite one is my sons' entrance for Christmas morning and their first look under the tree. They were not allowed to go into the livingroom before me. So they slept in my bedroom, with me when they were small and on the floor by my bed as they got older. We would laugh and talk until we got sleepy. They are grown up now and I miss Christmas eve night.

Alyn said...

Twelfth Night sounds so fun! I think I'll have to incorporate something like that cake into my family's Christmas gathering.

janet lombardi said...

I just got your book ,I have never read anything you wrote but from the little that I have read I can't wait. I love meeting new author . I just want to thanks Lucy for giving me the opportunity to meet these authors.

Debby said...

Regency romances are the best. I love them

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

What a lovely tradition. We do some German traditions as my Grandfather was German. I spent a year in Britain and got to enjoy the cool party favors at Christmas dinner. I am looking forward to the holiday and your excerpt was a great way to get started off.

Linda Henderson said...

I enjoy finding out how Christmas was and is celebrated in other countries. We don't have a lot of traditions, just opening presents on Christmas morning and a big meal that afternoon. Usually we play some games too later in the day.

Blogless Pat said...

Hi Vanessa,
I've put your book on my Christmas read list. I like what I read in your synopsis and there's nothing quite like reading an historical Christmas story. Thanks.

Lexi H said...

A pea, well I guess at least it wouldn't taste like much. And I could see how it would be a great party activity. That and you would get a piece of delicious cake, yum!
I love making kringles, a Scandinavian thing my Grandma used to make. I am working on my skills there...just not quite right yet.

Elf2060 said...

Hi there,

I am late to the party as usual. I love your covers and look forward to reading your new release!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Actually drawing a blank of our Christmas traditions. Growing up we always waited until christmas eve to buy a real tree. With hubby it's usually sometime after Thanksgiving...

jmcgaugh said...

My favorite Christmas tradition is decorating the Christmas tree.

Sherri W. said...

Hi Vanessa,
I'm looking forward to reading His Mistletoe Bride; the cover is absolutely lovely and I love reading about historical times.

Sherri

flchen1 said...

Ah, I love Christmas stories, Vanessa! We don't have too many traditions, but we do usually haul out the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving (yes, it's a fake ;)) and the kids help decorate with their own stashes of homemade ornaments! We have a little Advent calendar we pull out most years, and the kids are all old enough to actually read the story hidden behind the panels :) I can't believe the end of the year is fast approaching...

June M. said...

This book is already on my must read list. I think my favorite tradition in my family when I was growing up was when the whole family would gather at my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve (that included all their 11 children, their families, and a few friends would be there too). After dinner, everyone would gather and my grandfather would read the story of the first Christmas aloud from his Bible. Everyone down to the youngest would quietly listen. I am very glad to have a few years of this on DVD now that he has passed away.

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Vanessa,

great post, love your books.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi, ladies! So sorry I went AWOL last night. I was dealing with a bit of a family emergency, and things got away from me. Thanks so much to all of you for stopping by - it's lovely to see all your comments!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Z, That's a very good question. I've not come across that in my research, so I think I'll have to go back and look!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Lorna, I use both the internet and library sources. Sometimes there's nothing better than a really good book on a topic. The internet can be useful, but it's often a little unreliable.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Janet, thank you so much for buying the book - I hope you enjoy it!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Thanks so much Blogless Pat!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Thanks, Dannyfiredragon!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Again, ladies, thanks so much for stopping by, and I'm truly sorry I missed chatting with you last night. Family has a way of throwing spanners into the works!!

joder said...

I love all the holiday baking we do as a family. It's a chance to chat and catch up with each other's lives while making affordable gifts for friends. I enjoy heartwarming holiday stories and look forward to yours.

gogi1_2 AT yahoo DOT com

Lorna said...

Hopefully everything turned out OK with your family.