What on Earth is Calf’s Foot Jelly? by Susan Karsten

Calf's foot jelly

If you’ve done a significant amount of reading of regency fiction, you’ve come across a female character taking calf’s foot jelly to an invalid, usually someone poor. It was thought to be exceeding nutritious, but that is not necessarily true, according to my research. It was a thrifty, economizing concoction, made from a leftover part of a beef.

Calf’s foot jelly has two forms: sweet, common in 19th-century Britain and America, and savoury–called petcha, a standard of Ashkenazi Jewish cooking. Both dishes start with a long braise of split cow’s feet. The latter (for a sickroom concoction) adds garlic, onion, salt and pepper, and usually retains the meat that falls from the feet; the former (for a dessert) adds sugar, Madeira wine, brandy, cinnamon and citrus, and discards the meat. In both cases the stock is chilled until it sets, and the fat that rises to the top is skimmed.

The key component of both is collagen–a protein found mainly in connective tissue, in which feet abound. Collagen makes meat tough, but it also makes the same cut, after stewing, silky and rich. Smart cooks have long begged chicken feet from the butcher: they give chicken soup extra body. Hot, collagen imparts richness; chilled, it turns to gelatin.

To boil it down/summarize: Stock made by boiling a calf’s foot in water; which sets to a stiff jelly on cooling. It consists largely of water and gelatin, so is of little nutritional value.

Note: The New Female Instructor strongly advises against the addition of wine when the jelly is to be used for an ill person. Lemonade was often given to an ill-person along with barley water and tea.

To the readers, have you come across this, and wondered? To the fellow-Regency writers, have you ever included a character delivering this to a poor sick person?

104_2304Susan Karsten, regency blogger, author

A Pressing Engagement: Part1

Hampshire, England March 1810

It must be easier to face Napoleon’s cannons than witness the anguish in Sara’s dark eyes. Jeremiah Wilton’s heart clenched at her tears. A woman’s cries always gnawed at him, and these were his fault.

“Good day, Mr. Wilton.” She swiped at her chin and pivoted to her easel. The thick meadow grass lapped her pale skirts. “Must I count the seconds ’til you depart?”

“Miss Hargrove.” He searched in vain for a handkerchief. His regimental held no pockets like his comfortable tailcoat. “Will you allow me to explain?”

“Two. Three.” She fussed with her paint jars. “I understand that certain gentlemen make a sport of pursuing ladies. You should’ve saved this game for Miss Helena Smithers. She’d be a very willing mark.”

“She’s Smithers’s little sister with a child’s infatuation. My intentions to you were honourable.”

“Yes, Mr. Wilton. Your letters describing a future, a home, …arm loads of children are full of honour. You pursued me, made me hope for a future that will not be. Oh, leave.”

Unable pivot and ride away, he stood there like a dunderhead staring at her rare display of emotion. Had she been this partial to him all along? No. It was only his heart breaking.

A slight breeze rustled the leaves of the bordering apple trees. He’d met her in these orchards and lost his reason shortly after.

“Nine, ten. Mr. Wilton, can’t you let this parting be done.”

His boots were rooted in place. Why did she have this power to make him question everything, even when he was in the right? The ambitions Providence called him to do, couldn’t be achieved love-struck.

Another gust of wind mussed the curls peeking from her mobcap. His best friend, Gerald Smithers, called the lock’s colour, cinnamon, more apt to describe the silk than brown. The night of the harvest dance, she’d lost a pearl comb, and her chignon spilled into Jeremiah’s fingers. A luscious accident, a memory to fortify him on the battlefield.

“Twelve, thirteen.” She tapped her paintbrush against her easel. “Go to Hargrove Manor and say farewell to my parents.” With a flip of her dainty wrist, she swirled some blue and grey, and another grey, probably green onto the center of her palette.

Should he comment on her art to regain her attention, maybe win one last smile? Tightness gripped his stomach. He must tread carefully and not expose his difficulty distinguishing colours, or she’d think him forward and a fool. Maybe if he were vague…. He coughed. “Your painting is beautiful.”

Her strokes made a mirror image of the sky, every fluffy cloud, even the streaks of light beaming down. The texture of the bark matched the roughness of the boughs as if she’d inked the trunk and pressed the canvas against it. How could such a dainty woman, barely up to his armpit, possess such great talent?

“Papa’s favorite Pippin. It will bud in the spring with shimmering cream blossoms, pretty enough for wedding flowers.” Her tone soured. “Leave.”

She waved at him to go, shooing as one would do to scatter chickens.

No more horrid indecision. He marched the short distance to Sara. A hint of her lilac fragrance touched his nose, and he gulped a deeper portion of the scented air. “If there was another way—”

“You’ve made it clear that these decisions, yours and your grandfather’s, are made.”

He reached for her but dropped his hand to his side. “I should never have imposed upon you.”

“Well, Mr. Wilton, you did.” She stroked her jaw with her cuff. Droplets stained the lace trimming. “If you’re not going to see my parents, please run and catch your regiment.”

“Don’t dismiss me.”

With her chin jutted, she spun around, her eyes wide with fire. “This is not my fault. I’m not the one who sought this meeting. I’m not the one breaking a promise.”

“Technically, I never made a promise.” He shouldn’t have said that. Now was not the time for precision.

Her lips pursed. She gripped her paintbrush as if she sought to throw it at him. “No, you haven’t made an offer.”

Would an oil paint stain sponge from his uniform? “I have family obligations. With my brother’s early death, someone must fight in his stead.”

She lowered her weapon to a rag and cleaned its bristles, and he caught her balled fingers. “There are many things that weighed on my mind. Miss Hargrove, I must know you forgive me.”

“Why care now what I think?” She bit her lip, then caught his gaze.

“I planned to propose, but, I must distinguish myself in military service. Perhaps regain some of the respectability my father wasted.”

She shook her head. “His scandals never mattered to me. You excelled at the law. There is honour in that.”

“You paid attention to my prospects?”

Her expression softened as her tender lips released a sigh. “There is nothing about you which escapes me. Why else would I avoid wearing rose trims or anything emerald?”

Red and green, baneful hues. He rocked back on his heels. She knew of his difficulties? How ironic for a man with vision challenges to love a vibrant artist. “You never said anything.”

“You don’t seem to be comfortable with colour, and it pleased me to know you worked hard to admire my art even sending a friend to spy”

“Smithers’s my constant ally, but he’s not terribly discreet.” Jeremiah tugged off his gloves and dropped them away, then tucked a loose tendril behind her ear. “He’s to look after you while I’m gone, that is until you marry.”

Catch Part 2 on Thursday

 

Concluding our Spring Release Extravaganza

We have winners! We enjoyed hearing from everyone who stopped by during our promotion for A Lady’s Honor by our very own Laurie Alice Eakes. Thank you to those who participated in answering a variety of fun questions, encompassing everything from whether you’d rather read a story set in London opposed to the countryside, to what novel setting you’d like to visit in real life.

The winner of the Celtic knot necklace and $15.00 gift card is Janet Estridge.

Celtic Knot Necklace

 

The winner of the hand blown glass ring dish and $15.00 gift card is KayM.

Ring Holder

Today officially concludes our Spring Release Extravaganza, and our blog will be back to normal and posting about Regency history on Thursday. We wanted to take a quick moment and thank everyone who stopped by over the past month in a half. We enjoyed sharing our enthusiasm about new books by three authors here on Regency Reflections.

A Heart’s Rebellion by Ruth Axtell

A Heart's Rebellion

 

The Soldier’s Secrets by Naomi Rawlings

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's Secret

 

A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes

LadysHonor_FINAL

Vanishing Cornwall, The Book behind the Novel by Laurie Alice Eakes

Vanishing Cornwall, The Book behind the Novel by Laurie Alice Eakes

Once upon a time, I read a book called Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier. It was swashbuckling romance with smugglers and a dashing, dangerous hero and nasty villains and I was enthralled. And the setting was Cornwall, a land given to such dark, romantic adventures. A few years later, I was visiting my sister and picked up a book called Demelza by Winston Graham. This is the second book in an epic historical series set in Cornwall. More adventures and romance, danger and dark deeds filled my reading hours as I worked through the series. And learned more of this land that claims it is the birthplace of King Arthur.

Wanting to know more, I went to the library for books on Cornwall and discovered Vanishing Cornwall by the author of Jamaica Inn. She also wrote the book behind The Birds, that creepy Alfred Hitchcock movie that gave me nightmares for weeks after watching it. Her most famous book is probably Rebecca, a gothic novel at its best and most disturbing.

But I digress…

In Vanishing Cornwall, DuMaurier gives us a history of the lore and romance and true history of this peninsular county of England. Her beautiful writing fired my imagination, and The Cliffs of Cornwall series was born.

First the Cliffs of Cornwall series, Lady's Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes.
First the Cliffs of Cornwall series, Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes.

Cornwall is the western most point in England. It points a finger into the Atlantic Ocean, with the English Channel to the south and The Irish (Celtic) Sea to the north. The county of Devonshire is to the east. The north coast of Cornwall is soaring cliffs and thousands of caves, rocky beaches and pounding surf. In other words, this harshly beautiful land is far removed from the Regency world of Georgette Heyer or even Jane Austen. The gentry enjoyed their entertainments, young women sought husbands, and all the other trappings of the time, and yet poor roads and distances lowered the frequency. A smaller population limited the choices of appropriate spouses. If they could afford it, the upper classes, the landed gentry and noblemen, traveled to London, but it was a long journey taking as much as two weeks with rather difficult travel conditions.

And Cornwall was not a wealthy county for the most part. Mining and fishing are the primary industries at the time of my story, 1811. Both were a poor way to make a living. Mines petered out and families went hungry. Sometimes the pilchards didn’t run and the stew pots offered up thin fare. To supplement these meager forms of subsistence, men—and likely a few women, even those of the landed classes—turned to the lawlessness of smuggling.

Smuggling was a serious crime. A man could be hanged at worse and jailed in England at best if they were caught. Usually they faced transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales—Australia. To protect themselves, they maintained a code of silence. A man simply did not tell anyone who was involved. If he wasn’t punished by the revenue officers and courts for being involved himself, he would be punished by his peers and more seriously. Too often the punishment was death.

When one’s family was starving and one’s roof leaking in a time before safety nets like food and housing subsidies existed, do we condemn people for engaging in this lawless activity?

You can answer that question, or answer this: Do you like stories set in the ballrooms of London or the more open setting of the countryside?

Red Velvet Kisses: An Interview with Laurie Alice Eakes

Vanessa here,

I am so excited to interview my friend and mentor, Laurie Alice Eakes and celebrate her new Regency, A Lady’s Honor. Welcome Laurie Alice to my southern porch. I know you are steeped in writing the second book in this series, I’m just glad you could make it.

 LAE: I am working on the second book in the series, and can’t say too much about it or I’ll give too much away about the first book.

You do know how to leave a girl hanging.  Any way tell me about A Lady’s Honor‘s Elizabeth Trelawny.LadysHonor_FINAL[1]

LAE: Elizabeth has issues with God’s provision, or simply God in general. Rowan Curnow gave me trouble. He’s is too self-reliant. Pride, I think, is the main problem both of them face, the roadblock between them and a relationship with the Lord.

As you set your heroine(s) on their journey, do their lessons model your own life experiences or something else?

LAE: I think all my books give away a little part of where I have been at one time or another in my life. In A Lady’s Honor, my heroine deals with perfection. I have soooo been there.

Been there too. It takes so much: God, the love of friends and family, and a big pot of coffee to be comfortable in your own skin. What was the most difficult or interesting research fact that you discovered that you used in this book?

LAE: It’s probably only interesting to a nerd like me and is tangled up in inheritance laws, entails, and marriage laws.

Given the strict societal norms of the Regency, how did you challenge or use it in this book?

LAE: Ah, that’s part of the journey. My heroine engages in actions that would likely ruin her in society and probably get even her small freedoms greatly curtailed. All through the story, she struggles with this behavior until… Well, sometimes we have to make decisions that are in someone else’s interest rather than ours. That’s how I use the strictures over females’ behavior during the time period.

What spiritual truth would have made the difference to your heroine’s journeys, if they had realized it at the beginning.

LAE: If she knew them at the beginning, then her journey would probably not have been worth telling. Elizabeth–Elys in Cornish–thinks she has to be above reproach to be loved–and she keeps failing at the former.

I love food. I love passion.  I have a passion for food. How would you rate the passion of this novel on a scale of yummy goodness?

LAE: I probably would have said chocolate mousse, but red velvet will do nicely–rich, sweet, and heady. 

OooLaLa, Laurie Alice. Ok, now you have have to dish. Tell me about that first kiss.

LAE: I love that first kiss in reading or writing a book. It is a special moment, a turning point in the novel. Nothing is the same after that kiss. What I am thinking is what I believe the hero and/or heroine are thinking. If the scene demands chocolate or music, then, yes, I’ll think about one of those. As a general rule, however, I rarely use props to write. It’s all in my head and my heart. Or perhaps it’s in the heads and hearts of the people kissing.

How would you describe your career? What do you define as successful?

LAE: Ha! The bar seems to keep moving. Once upon a time, I answered that question with: When I can sell the book without having to write it first. Now that I have done that many times over, I haven’t figured out where the bar has gone. Perhaps when I’m more than an Amazon bestseller?

Please, pretty please. Tell us about the series.

LAE: The series is The Cliffs of Cornwall. The second book will come out early next year and features the blacksheep cousin introduced in A Lady’s Honor. The third book will follow and focuses on the return of the heroine’s exiled older brother. All three books probably can be called historical romantic suspense. I can’t seem to write without a dead body or two popping up somewhere, or else the hero and/or heroine getting into danger.

If there is one take away you want the reader to know after finishing this book, what would it be?

LAE: You will only find unconditional love through in our Lord and Savior. Seeking it elsewhere will lead to heartache and disappointment.

Thank you so much for spending time, answering all my questions. Next time we meet up at conference, I buying the red velvet cupcakes. Can I find some with a dollop of chocolate mousse insides?

To kick things off, Laurie Alice is hosting a special contest. It starts today and runs through midnight on Sunday, May 4.  To enter the giveaway, answer the question at the end of the blog post. A new question will be given with each post, so a person can enter up to four times. At the end of the contest, there will be two winners chosen, and the prizes are from Cornwall, England, where A Lady’s Honor is set. The winners will receive:

1.  Either a Celtic knot necklace:Celtic Knot Necklace

2.  Or a hand blown Cornish ring dish.Ring Holder

3.  Both winners will also receive a $15.00 gift card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Now here’s a little more about the book:

A tarnished reputation. A distant home. A forced engagement to a dangerous man. When Elizabeth Trelawny flees London, she has more than one reason to run. And when her carriage, pursued by her would-be fiancé, is caught in a storm, she quickly accepts the help of a dark stranger. Anything to get back to Cornwall.

Rowan Curnow is not exactly a stranger. Not quite a gentleman either, class disparity once kept him from courting Elizabeth . . . even if it didn’t keep him from kissing her.

The couple elude their pursuers and reach Bastian Point, Elizabeth’s future inheritance and the one place she calls home. But in the very act of spiriting her to safety, Rowan has jeopardized Elizabeth’s inheritance—if her Grandfather ever learns she spent the night, however innocently, in the company of a man.

When smugglers unite the pair in a reckless, flirtatious alliance—an alliance that challenges the social norms that Elizabeth has been raised to revere and rattles Rowan’s fledgling faith in God—Elizabeth must choose between the obedience of a child and the desires of a woman: whether to cling to the safety of her family home or follow the man she loves.

A Lady’s Honor received 4 1/2 stars from The Romantic Times, which said, “Beautiful 19th century Cornwall offers a contemplative setting for this dramatic romance that involves murder, suspense and a surprise villain.  Elizabeth and Rowan are both on a journey to discover that they are worthy of love.”

And Publisher’s Weekly stated,  “Eakes delivers beautifully written romantic suspense set in Cornwall during the Regency era.”

Today’s quiz question:  A Lady’s Honor is about a couple who are of different classes. The hero’s not quite a gentleman. If you’ve been romanced by a bad boy, someone from the wrong part of town, what was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself?

Be sure to come back Monday for a post about the history surrounding A Lady’s Honor and another chance to win.

 

Introducing A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes

Laurie Alice Eakes A Lady's HonorFor the next two weeks we’re looking at the last book in our Spring Release Extravaganza, A Lady’s Honor, by Laurie Alice Eakes. We’ve got prizes, quiz questions, book reviews, and more lined up for you.

To kick things off, Laurie Alice is hosting a special contest. It starts today and runs through midnight on Sunday, May 4.  To enter the giveaway, answer the question at the end of the blog post. A new question will be given with each post, so a person can enter up to four times. At the end of the contest, there will be two winners chosen, and the prizes are from Cornwall, England, where A Lady’s Honor is set. The winners will receive:

1.  Either a Celtic knot necklace,
Celtic Knot Necklace
2.  Or a hand blown Cornish ring dish.
Ring Holder
3.  Both winners will also receive a $15.00 gift card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Now here’s a little more about the book:

A tarnished reputation. A distant home. A forced engagement to a dangerous man. When Elizabeth Trelawny flees London, she has more than one reason to run. And when her carriage, pursued by her would-be fiancé, is caught in a storm, she quickly accepts the help of a dark stranger. Anything to get back to Cornwall.


Rowan Curnow is not exactly a stranger. Not quite a gentleman either, class disparity once kept him from courting Elizabeth . . . even if it didn’t keep him from kissing her.
The couple elude their pursuers and reach Bastian Point, Elizabeth’s future inheritance and the one place she calls home. But in the very act of spiriting her to safety, Rowan has jeopardized Elizabeth’s inheritance—if her Grandfather ever learns she spent the night, however innocently, in the company of a man.

When smugglers unite the pair in a reckless, flirtatious alliance—an alliance that challenges the social norms that Elizabeth has been raised to revere and rattles Rowan’s fledgling faith in God—Elizabeth must choose between the obedience of a child and the desires of a woman: whether to cling to the safety of her family home or follow the man she loves.

A Lady’s Honor received 4 1/2 stars from The Romantic Times, which said, “Beautiful 19th century Cornwall offers a contemplative setting for this dramatic romance that involves murder, suspense and a surprise villain.  Elizabeth and Rowan are both on a journey to discover that they are worthy of love.”

And Publisher’s Weekly stated,  “Eakes delivers beautifully written romantic suspense set in Cornwall during the Regency era.”

As I’ve personally come to expect from Laurie Alice Eakes, the suspense in A Lady’s Honor is riveting, and you can’t help sympathizing with Elizabeth’s plight right from the beginning. You certainly won’t find me complaining about the American hero either. Furthermore, the Cornish setting is beautiful and seems like a breath of fresh air when compared to the endless Regency books set in London.

Today’s quiz question:  A Lady’s Honor is set in the romantically beautiful and wild county of Cornwall, England. I’ve wanted to go there since I read my first book set in that remote county. Have you ever visited or wanted to visit a setting for a book you loved?

Be sure to come back Thursday for a post about the history surrounding A Lady’s Honor and another chance to win.

The Soldier’s Secrets Winners!

Congratulations! We have winners! And answers to the quiz questions!Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's Secret

First, our winners are:

Julie N.–winning a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets

Martha G.–winning a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets and A Tale of Two Cities

Note: We did feature two other giveaways over the past week and a half, but both were disqualified do to low contestant entries.

 

Now for the quiz questions.

On April 3, we asked: Name the famous prison in Paris that was stormed during the French Revolution.

Answer: The Bastille

 

On April 7, we asked: True or False–Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake,” at the beginning of the French Revolution.

Answer: False. Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” However, rumors that she had indeed responded to the plight of the peasants by uttering such a cruel statement spread through Paris, and the false quote found it’s way into many a political pamphlet at the beginning of the revolution.

 

On April 10, we asked: True or False–After it was stormed, the Bastille was torn down and the stones were used to build a bridge.

Answer: True. The stones from the Bastille were used to build the Pont de la Concorde (Concorde Bridge). The bridge, which crosses the Seine River, is still used today.

 

On April 14, we asked: True or False: The majority of the people killed during the Reign of Terror were peasants.

Answer: True. Sadly, most of France’s rich and affluent had fled France long before the Reign of Terror. Most historians estimate that 85% of those killed during this period were the very peasants that the revolution was supposed to be fighting for.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to come back tomorrow for a guest post by Regency author Regina Scott!

Spiritual Truths Abound in “The Soldier’s Secrets”

Hi, all! Susan Karsten here…I’m bringing insights on the spiritual themes found in        “The Soldier’s Secrets” the latest release by our own dear Naomi Rawlings.

Not only does author Naomi Rawlings deliver a compelling read with this historical romance set during the early days of the French Republic, she gently brings home some serious spiritual truths.

The importance of honesty and truthfulness is drawn out in an unusual way. Both the hero, Jean Paul, and the heroine, Brigitte, are brought low by dishonesty. The unusual aspect of this is that some of their troubles are of their own doing. So often, we find idealistic, too-perfect heroines and heroes–this is not the case in this gripping novel.

Brigitte and Jean Paul should have abided by the following verses:

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight….Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool…2 Corinthians 8:21 For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man….Proverbs 6:16-20 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Forgiveness is another strong theme in “The Soldier’s Secrets“. To receive God’s forgiveness, to forgive other people who sin against you, and to forgive one’s self are all treated in the midst of this historically accurate gripping story.

Here are some pertinent verses on the facets of forgiveness–we can all keep in  mind:

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you….Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Leave a comment to be entered in a giveaway of a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets and a History Channel documentary: The French Revolution. 

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's Secret
French Revolution DVD

 

I hope you read The Soldier’s Secrets — I think you’ll be happy you did. Leave a comment on your favorite verse on forgiveness or honesty. Thanks!

Susan Karsten
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Little Known Tidbits about the French Revolution

Hi Everyone,

Naomi here with another giveaway today to celebrate the release of The Soldier’s Secrets. I’m also doing a little history lesson about a very fascinating part of the Georgian and Regency years–or at least, I find it to be fascinating.

It’s no secret that I’ve written three books set during the French Revolution. The first is Sanctuary for a Lady, the second is The Soldier’s Secrets, and the third, which doesn’t have a title yet, comes out in January 2015. I often think the French Revolution is one of the most distorted and misunderstood time periods of European history.

Here’s a few facts that might help make the French Revolution a little more understandable:

Before the Revolution

French-Rev-Tax-system-web-pic-223x300

  • Before the Revolution started in 1789, a loaf of bread cost a week’s salary for the peasant class.
  • In 1789, the peasantry paid taxes to nobles, the king, and the church, while the aristocrats barely payed taxes.
  • The country was bankrupt.
  • The cost of France helping with the American Revolution was a contributing factor to its bankruptcy.

 

 

During the Revolution

Bastille-Website-pic-300x245

  • Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France before the Revolution, never said, “Let them eat cake.” However, the political pamphlets of the time reported that she said this (as well as several other untruths about her), and so the peasants of France believed it and got even more upset with her and King Louis XVI.
  • Marie Antoinette was Austrian born and never very popular with the French people–even before the alleged “let them eat cake” comment.
  • When the Bastille was stormed, only seven prisoners were being held there. The Bastille wasn’t stormed to liberate wrongfully imprisoned men, but to give the peasants access to the weapons stored inside the Bastille. The peasant class was convinced King Louis was going to send his army into Paris to kill political dissenters, and the people wanted weapons to defend themselves.
  • Most of the France’s aristocrats were ensconced in Versailles and ignored the famine and economic troubles until a mob of peasant women stormed the castle and demanded bread in August of 1789.Tale of Two Cities
  • The ideals behind the French Revolution were so looked down on by other European monarchies that France ended up fighting Prussia, Britain, Spain and Austria all while having their own internal revolution. Some of the fighting goes back to Marie Antoinette being Austrian born. Her brother, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, didn’t take kindly to Marie Antoinette being imprisoned, and then beheaded, which fueled the start of the French Revolutionary Wars.
  • The metric system was developed during the French Revolution.
  • The French Revolutionary Government also adopted its own calendar based on tens. Each week had ten days, each day had ten hours, each hour had 100 minutes, and each minute had 100 seconds. This meant the peasants who got one day a week off now had to work nine days before their break.
  • After the French Revolution ended, the metric system stayed in place, but the French Revolutionary Calender was set aside in favor of the Gregorian Calendar.

The first question people usually ask me after they find out where my novels are set is “Why the French Revolution?”

Oddly enough, I don’t find that question hard to answer, and now you know why. Do any of the facts mentioned above surprise you? Which ones?

Today I’m giving away a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets as well as a copy of A Tale of Two Cities. To enter the giveaway, fill out the drawing form at the end of the post. And don’t forget to come back on Monday for an review of The Soldier’s Secrets and a chance to win another copy of the novel plus a copy of the History Channel Documentary: The French Revolution.

 

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Deliciously Layered: An Interview with Naomi Rawlings

Vanessa here,

It is my great pleasure to have Naomi Rawlings with me on my southern porch. Glad you weathered the pollen to allow me to join the celebration for the release of The Soldiers Secrets. This is the sequel to your Love Inspired Historical debut, Sanctuary for A Lady.Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's Secret

Naomi: Yes, this story is actually the sequel to the first novel I ever wrote, Sanctuary for a Lady. It was exciting to take a character who had a less than stellar reputation in my first novel and transform him. I hope readers will be inspired by the transformation they see in Jean Paul Belanger.

Vanessa: Tell me about your heroine in this novel. What makes Brigitte tick?

Naomi: Brigitte Dubois will do anything to keep her family safe. When she is blackmailed by her father-in-law, his quest for revenge leaves her no choice. To protect her children, she must spy on the man who may have killed her husband. But Jean Paul Belanger is nothing like she expected. The dark, imposing farmer offers food to all who need it, and insists on helping Brigitte and her children . . .

Vanessa: Brooding is good. Is Mr. Rawlings a brooder? I mean, are there any similarities between this book and your life?

Naomi: No, they don’t model my own life experiences. I certainly hope I never have to live through the French Revolution or be left widowed with 5 children or asked to spy on someone. However, I think some of the mistakes Brigitte makes and lessons she learns about honesty and honoring God are universal to everyone, even if the situation itself is rather unique.

Vanessa: The French Revolution is an intense period in time. What shocked you about it?

Naomi: It’s rather sad, but I learned that 85% of people killed during the Reign of Terror were peasants, not your aristocrats or your clergy, but just regular people accused of being a “traitor to liberty.”

Vanessa: So everyone killed wasn’t Marie Antoinette. Why do I suddenly want cake? I’m digressing. Can you sum up Jean Paul’s and Brigitte’s journey in one word?

Naomi: Honesty—watching Jean Paul discover (the importance of being honest) that lesson for himself is an intrinsic part of the story. I enjoyed writing about the different choices both characters made until they realized where they went wrong and how to correct things.

Vanessa: You probably know I am a foodie. If you had to rate the passion of this novel (smokin’ like Louisiana ribs, tepid like warm chamomile tea, deliciously layered by red velvet cake, or some other food.) what would it be?

Naomi: Oh, good question! I would go with “deliciously layered by red velvet cake.” There are a lot of emotions and attraction swirling between Jean Paul and Brigitte, but things are definitely complicated and “layered.” Brigitte has her children to consider first, and then she’s not sure if she can trust Jean Paul. Jean Paul, on the

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other hand, has been hurt before and is still carrying wounds. When you put everything together, “deliciously complicated” is definitely a good description. 

Vanessa: Now I really want cake, something with a lot of layers and bliss icing. Tell me about your favorite scene. Kissing right?

Naomi: No. I have one instance where Brigitte is trying to defend Jean Paul to one of the guards. She’s very ardent in her defense, claiming he’s gentle, caring, and compassionate, but the entire time, she has doubts in her head. As much as she wants to believe Jean Paul, she doesn’t really know. It was a fun scene to write with the conflicting emotions and war inside my heroine’s head.

Vanessa: But there is kissing right. Fine don’t answer. I’ll get the book. Last question, is there one message you want the reader to take with them after finishing this book?

Naomi: The importance of honesty and trusting God, but I don’t want to say more than that lest I give the book away.

Vanessa: Thank you Naomi, for spending time on my porch. Congratulations on this book. Let’s all get it and enjoy the layers.

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