Archive for the ‘Easter Egg’ Category

Hey! You got your Doctor Who in My Regency.

I will, occasionally, insert things into my novels strictly to amuse myself. My rule is that I can slide these private jokes in only if they don’t interrupt the story.

In Shades of Milk and Honey, I managed to fit Doctor Who into the Regency.

Oh, yes. I’m not kidding about this. He’s easy to spot if you know he’s there, but if you aren’t looking for him, he blends right in.  In Glamour in Glass I slipped another incarnation of the doctor into the text.

Can you spot him?

Spoiler Inside: The location of the Doctor SelectShow

Glamour in Glass: Anachronism in dining

Would you like to know about the giant anachronism that spans two chapters in Glamour in Glass?

I thought you would. While I was researching Without a Summer, the next book in the series, I discovered an interesting thing. I’d done the seating arrangements wrong in Glamour in Glass. And not just a little wrong. Completely, totally wrong.

But no one had caught it. I’d given it to several people who knew the Regency, and none of them spotted it. My copy-editor didn’t notice. My editor didn’t. No one noticed the wrongness.

At the point that I noticed, the book was typeset and to fix the problem, I would have needed to restructure the entire chapter. I was worried that doing so would introduce other mistakes. Since I knew I wasn’t going to get to look at the final, I chose to let it stand and promised myself that I would “out” the mistake to you so that no one else who writes Regency books does the same thing.

The mistake?

I gave them assigned seating. That’s Victorian. I had the men escort the ladies in. Also Victorian.

In the Regency, the ladies all lined up together, in order of precedence, and went in to the dining room. The hostess sat at the foot of the table. Everyone else sat wherever they wanted to.

Then the men followed them in, in order of precedence. The host sat at the head of the table and everyone else sat where they wanted.

You can see it in Emma, in fact, when Mr. Churchill walks into the dining room, spies Emma and comes to sit next to her. There are other spots as well which make a lot more sense if I’m not trying to force Victorian seating logic on them.

I could handwave it away by saying that Glamour in Glass is an alternate history or that the Prince Regent was an eccentric and could do things as he liked, but the truth is that it’s an anachronism.

I gave them behavior from the wrong time.

Now I’m curious… Did you spot it before I pointed it out?

Glamour in Glass: The Battersea Bridge

This entry is part 12 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

The current Battersea Bridge crosses the Thames and is an iron structure. In the days of The Glamourist Histories, it was still a wooden bridge and the oldest remaining wooden bridge crossing the Thames. This painting is from 1840, so twenty-five years after the events in Glamour in Glass, but looking very much the same. It does give you a sense of how much more rustic certain parts of London were.

An excerpt from Glamour in Glass

The following morning, Jane rose with the intention of visiting her family before their mutual journeys separated them. Vincent declined the opportunity to accompany her, saying that he wanted to paint the Battersea Bridge and catch the morning light. After the fi asco of the previous evening, Jane could hardly blame him for wanting to escape under the thinnest pretence.

Write to Jane from Shades of Milk and Honey

A Month of Letters participantI have just realized that Jane, from Shades of Milk and Honey should participate in the Month of Letters Challenge. So, she is.

If you want to write to her, address correspondence to:

Mrs. David Vincent
P.O. Box 221298
Chicago, IL 60622

I will tell you, as a teaser, that she will be writing back to you with an actual quill pen on a writing slope from the 1800s. The letters will be “Real time” for her in that they will be coming from February, 1815. This means that they will contain references to the first chapters of Glamour in Glass and definite spoilers from Shades of Milk and Honey.

Glamour in Glass: Mme Meynard’s Pomona Dress

This entry is part 11 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

As you might imagine, we’ll be meeting some new characters in Glamour in Glass. Allow me to introduce you to one of them, or at least to her dress.

When Jane was introduced to Mme Meynard, she had a moment of coveting the belle’s beautiful Pomona green gown with blond lace embellishments.



The original dress was Published in Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, September 1815 and described thus:

A white satin slip, worn under a dress made in pomona green French gauze, terminating at the feet with a full flounce of blond lace, headed with a double border of the same, gathered in full, and confined with folds of satin, of corresponding colour to the dress; handkerchief-front, trimmed with white satin, and a falling collar of blond lace; long sleeve of white satin, the fulness upon the shoulder confined under an epaulet of the French gauze, trimmed with white satin; the sleeve drawn alternately across the arm with the pomona green satin ribbon. Long white sash of white satin, tied in front.
The ends of the hind hair brought forward, to fall in ringlets over the temple, confined with a plain white satin ribbon, and ornamented with a tiara of pearl. Necklace to correspond. Gloves, French kid. Slippers, white satin.

Glamour in Glass: Mr. Vincent

This entry is part 8 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

In Shades of Milk and Honey, when Jane first sees the professional glamourist, Mr. Vincent, she describes him as, “Tall, and very broad of chest. His hair was chestnut and curled about his head like Bacon’s portrait of Jean- Baptiste Isabey.”

In Glamour in Glass, we see him again.

His brown curls were tousled in the fashionable wind- swept look which so many men struggled to attain, but which came naturally to him.He swept his hands through his hair so much, knotting them in place while he thought, that it was permanently dishevelled.

Note the word wind-swept? It is one of three places I knowingly cheated with the language. That word does not get coined until 1932, but the description for the hairstyle from the period was… not particularly helpful to a modern reader.

Would you have known what I meant by the “frightened owl” hairstyle?

Glamour in Glass: The Blue Room

This entry is part 7 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

Today’s visual teaser for Glamour in Glass is another room in Carlton House.

After the overt glamour of the ballroom, the Blue Room seemed positively staid, though it was appointed in the best manner. The walls were covered in blue damask, which matched the upholstery. Gilt frames bordered the walls, with cleverly rendered oysters on the half shell in each corner. By the very absence of glamour, the Prince Regent displayed his taste and means here as much as in the ballroom, because everything from the elaborate carpet to the massive crystal chandelier was real.

Real gold gilded the arms of the chairs. Real candles stood in the sconces instead of fairy lights, so rather than the faint glow of glamoured light, the room truly was bright and airy.

The only glamour in the room adorned the ceiling, which had a glamural of sky and clouds drifting in a simple repeating pattern. The clouds circled the chandelier so that the crystals would not catch and diff ract their glamoured folds. The effect seemed one part dance, one part storm— very like life at court itself.

Shades of Milk and Honey: Miss Dunkirk’s ballgown

This entry is part 5 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories
Miss Dunkirk

This is one of my favorite dresses in the Glamourist Histories, so I wanted to show it to you. It appears in Shades of Milk and Honey  and belongs to Miss Dunkirk.

She offered Miss Dunkirk her arm and led her to a bolt of white lawn, the fabric most appropriate to a debutante. Then Jane suggested a deep green velvet which she thought might set off Miss Dunkirk’s hair to advantage…  Between the two of them, they selected a lace which complemented the cloth as well.

The original dress is from Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, the March 1814 edition.

A white crape, or fine muslin petticoat, worn over white satin, embroidered in silver lama round the bottom. A bodice of olive or spring-green satin, ornamented with a silver stomacher. Short, full sleeve, and rounded bosom, trimmed with a full silver border to correspond. A fan frill of fluted lace, continued round the back, and terminating in front at the corner of the bosom. A silver fringe round the bottom of the waist. The hair in irregular curls in front, falling low on each side, drawn smoothly on the crown of the head, and brought in a small bunch of curls at the back. A bandeau of pearl, twisted round the curls behind. Necklace and cross of pearl eardrops, and bracelets to correspond. Occasional scarf of white silk, richly embroidered in silver and coloured silks. Gloves of white kid. Slippers of green satin, with silver rosettes.


Just to be clear, when they refer to “a fine muslin petticoat” they aren’t talking about modern muslin. In the Regency muslin could be so fine as to be translucent, like this example of a hand-embroidered Regency dress. See how the paper shows through it? (Here are more photos of this lovely extant dress.)


Glamour in Glass: The Prince Regent

This entry is part 4 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

It is always a bit unnerving to use real historical figures in fiction, especially someone as well-known as The Prince Regent. Because the Regency period is named after him, it is easy to think that he was an admirable figure in the same way that Queen Victoria was. Alas…

George.He was regarded as self-indulgent, extravagant, and an adulterer. With good reason, since he made no secret of his mistresses and was constantly living well beyond his means to the point of needing to ask Parliament for more money. He spent 10,000 pounds per anum just on clothing.

He was, however, a great patron of the arts and encouraged much of the look of the Regency period. Among the people he was a fan of was Jane Austen.

The admiration was not returned. In a letter to Martha Lloyd, Miss Austen wrote:

“I suppose all the World is sitting in Judgement upon the Princess of Wales’s Letter. Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman, & because I hate her Husband — but I can hardly forgive her for calling herself “attached & affectionate” to a Man whom she must detest — & the intimacy said to subsist between her & Lady Oxford is bad — I do not know what to do about it; but if I must give up the Princess, I am resolved at least always to think that she would have been respectable, if the Prince had behaved only tolerably by her at first. –”

So how does he appear in Glamour in Glass?

The Prince Regent smiled and patted her hand where it lay on the dark blue cloth of his sleeve.

George_IV_FullThe portrait above is from 1814, the year that Shades of Milk and Honey, takes place. Glamour in Glass begins on December 30, 1814 so he would look very much like that.

In this mixed media figure, you get a sense of how he would appear in the style popularized by Beau Brummell. Buckskin trousers and a blue coat.

Smiling, the Prince Regent adjusted the sleeve of his coat, which was, Jane was startled to note, cut from superfine cloth. [1. Superfine is a general fabric term related to quality, but during the Regency it invariably referred to the woolen broadcloth used in coats.]

For further reading on gentlemen’s fashion, may I recommend Between a Gentleman and His Tailor

Glamour in Glass: The Carlton House Red Room

This entry is part 3 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

Today’s teaser for Glamour in Glass is a scenic location. The Carlton House Red drawing room, which appears in Chapter 1.

As the Prince Regent led her out of the Red Room, Jane felt all the eyes of those assembled fall upon her, and under their gaze the unequal nature of her station magnified.

red roomThe Carlton House was the Prince Regent’s London residence. It was a magnificent building that showed his fondness for sumptuous elegance.  The history of the royal residences by William Henry Pyne (London: 1819) describes this room as:

On entering this spacious apartment, the eye is agreeably struck with the happy combination of splendid materials tastefully arranged; consisting of a profusion of rich draperies, large pier glasses, grand chandeliers of brilliant cut glass, massive furniture richly gilt, candelabra, tripods, bronzes, elegant vases, and other corresponding decorations, displaying at once the improved taste of the arts and manufactures of Great Britain. To these are added some valuable original pictures by English and foreign masters.


Glamour in Glass: Lady Hertford’s claret velvet dress

This entry is part 2 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories


Yesterday, I showed you a sneak peek of Glamour in Glass through a picture of Jane’s dove grey silk dress. She thought it seemed dingy by comparison… to what?

To this dress.

The dove silk which had seemed so fine when
she had commissioned it last summer now seemed dingy by comparison to gowns such as Lady Hertford’s rich claret velvet, which had long sleeves slashed to allow glimpses of a cloth of silver.

This painting is actually Jane, Lady Munro by Sir Martin Archer Shee but I thought it was lovely and gave it to Lady Hertford.

Lady Hertford is a historical figure who I am using in Glamour in Glass. In fact, unlike Shades of Milk and Honey, I use a number of real people and places.

What did the real Lady Hertford look like?

Lady Hertford

At her side now stood the inimitable Lady Hertford, who also gazed at the painting. This celebrated beauty’s very presence lent the room an additional elegance. Her claret velvet dress might have been chosen as a deliberate complement to the blue walls. The line of her neck would have been a welcome subject for any artist.

Glamour in Glass Teasers in Pictorial Form

This entry is part 1 of 25 in the series Images from The Glamourist Histories

In three months, Glamour in Glass, will hit the book stores. The first chapter is in the trade paperback of Shades of Milk and Honey, so you’ve already had a little bit of a teaser. Since one of the things that attracts me to the Regency are the pretty, pretty clothes, I’m going to offer you pictorial teasers over the next twelve weeks.

Of what? You’ll get a picture of a dress and the line that accompanies it.

This is Jane’s dress from Shades of Milk and Honey. It appeared in that novel like this:

“Her fingers danced in the air, pulling folds together in a small simulacrum of Jane. This tiny manikin wore Jane’s beloved dove silk, but with a open pelisse of the pink. A high waist with a sash of that same pale pink gave the illusion of height and slenderness to her figure. Softening Jane’s face, Madame Beaulieu had added a turban à la Oriental which cupped her hair with cunningly wrought silk roses. A simple shawl completed the picture with elegant grace.”

How does it fare in Glamour in Glass?

The dove silk which had seemed so fine when she had commissioned it last summer now seemed dingy by comparison…

Christmas Gift!

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Glamourist History stories

I hope your holiday is bright and enjoyable. This is a short story which takes place between Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass. Last year I wrote about Christmastide with the Ellsworths.

This year’s short story takes place the next morning and is our newlyweds’ first Christmas morning together. I’ve hidden it below, since it has an unavoidable spoiler by telling you who gets married at the end of Shades of Milk and Honey. I trust that the fact that matrimony ensues is not a surprise…

Please enjoy: Early on a Christmas Morn SelectShow

I will also tell you that Glamour in Glass begins four days after this story takes place. Alas, you have to wait until April to read it. Meanwhile, I wish you a Very Happy Christmas.

Arranging the seating (plus Chapter 13 is posted)

Whee! Chapter 13 is posted of the Without a Summer draft.

I spent most of my writing time today not actually writing. The scene I was writing involved a dinner which in turn involved me realizing that I could not write it until I had done a seating chart so that I knew where people were sitting and what the order of precedence was in going in to dinner. I wound up needing to elevate one gentleman from a Viscount to a Marquess in order to place him where I needed him at the table. It was significantly more complicated that I would have liked.

In fact, I had to do this in Shades of Milk and Honey as well for the dinner party at Lady FitzCameron’s.

You’ll note that there are a number of characters, like Sir Harrison, who don’t appear in the book. That’s because I needed some people just to pad out the table in order to get my principals in the right place. Sir Harrison, for instance, is a Baronet and can push Mr. Dunkirk down the ranking so that he sits next to Jane Ellsworth. It was unexpectedly complicated.

One of my primary resources for this is Laura A. Wallace’s excellent pages on English peerage and precedence. If you are writing anything set in the Regency I highly recommend these with the caveat that you have to actually read the entire site before deploying the information in there. She’s thorough, but things are tricksy. Yes, they are.