Saturday, 23 March 2013

Why was Revere so Revered?

When my co-author, Carley Bauer, convinced me to co-write a romance novel based in the American Revolutionary War, I had long accepted the information taught to me in school as fact. However, in the process of researching for this book, for we wanted this to be an intelligent novel for intelligent readers, I found out that not everything we learned was entirely factual.
The most surprising thing we found out was that Longfellow’s poem about Revere’s “Midnight Ride” was, to a great extent, fiction. Not surprising, since it was written more than hundred years later.
It can be excused, since Longfellow is in fact Revere’s distant cousin, and he probably wanted to heighten the notoriety of his famous ancestor. However, since I love historical surprises, let me enlighten those who are still unaware of the actual facts, and why that conversation took place in our book, during the famous first battle to regain control in Concord.
First of all, there was never supposed to be a battle in Lexington or Concord. The militia and minutemen only wanted to protect their leaders from being arrested for treason, which was a crime punishable by death. It was also essential they protect the arms and ammunition that the colonialists had been stockpiling for several years. To lose those would mean they were beaten in their argument with the Crown before they even started, and they would forever be silent in the affairs of their nation.
First myth was that Revere rode on his quick-footed steed to shout out to everyone, “The British are coming!” First thing you have to remember is, everyone still considered themselves British, or English, at that time. They were still a proud part of the Commonwealth and honestly had no wish to break from the Crown, though some minor players wanted separation. Most just wanted appeasement, and applied for it through the “Olive Branch” series of letters to England. So, it now seems unlikely that Revere would have used that term. What Revere probably shouted was in fact, “The regulars are advancing,” or “The regulars are coming out”.
Second myth is that Revere actually arrived in Lexington or Concord. He did manage to warn Adams and Hancock at the home where they were staying, the two men on his route who were targeted for arrest. However, he wasn’t alone. He was joined by William Dawes, although by different routes and they eventually met up. In fact, there was a league of men, all scattered about the countryside, raising the alarm. They all rode hard, although it was not on fast steeds.
In fact, Revere himself plodded along on his thick footed, oversized farm plough horse, and Dawes actually had to slow down frequently to allow Revere’s horse to catch up. They eventually ran across some British soldiers, and while Dawes and Samuel Prescott, another man who joined them on the road, got away, though Dawes limped all the way down the roads, then became lost in the dark because he lost his horse in the scuffle, and Prescott, the only one to retain his horse, made it quickly to Concord to warn of the impending arrival of the soldiers, Revere actually fell off his horse. Winded, he was unable to run away and the British soldiers arrested him and kept him with them until about 3 am, when he finally convinced the soldiers that many more opposition men were gathered than what there actually were. Revere’s horse had disappeared. Alarmed, the soldiers released Revere and took off to join their comrades at Lexington. Revere sprinted on foot all the way to Lexington as well, to arrive to see the end part of the battle on Lexington Green. Exhausted, he bravely took hold of a rifle and joined in the fray.
It’s ironic that only one of the three men actually succeeded in their mission to warn the colonialists of the arrival of British troops in Concord, and of all three, Dr. Samuel Prescott is the least known of them all. There is not even a portrait of him.
Paul Revere will forever be remembered because of “The Midnight Ride”, and perhaps he was chosen because he was the most charismatic of the men that fateful night. He was also highly respected as a patriot, and always willing to put himself at risk for what he believed in. He was by no means a coward; quite the opposite in fact, so even though the poem may be inaccurate in many ways, Revere still deserves a great place in American history. He was perhaps the best silversmith of that era, and if his stuff is collectable and valuable, it is well earned.
As for Samuel Prescott? He is unfortunately largely forgotten now, and it’s a shame considering he managed to accomplish what the others did not, and probably was responsible for saving Concord in the grand scheme of things. He served as a surgeon to the Continental Army, still braving the front lines during battles, but later died in a British prison sometime late in 1776.
“Listen my children, and you shall hear,
Of the midnight ride of…Samuel Prescott?”
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Friday, 22 March 2013

My Beloved Colt

As I was writing “No Gentleman Is He” with my co-author, Carley Bauer, I had a clear vision of what Colton Rolfe, my main character, looked like. Even though Cassandra Brooks, the female heroine, was Carley’s character, I also knew exactly what she looked like too. I lived with these characters for months, day and night, and knew their histories, even though not all the details were written down.
When I looked for a photo for anyone who could represent Colton, I couldn’t find any that accurately portrayed him. I guess it was because he was so well defined in my mind that he became a living entity. As such, because he was indeed fictional except in my head, there were no photos of him and I would never be happy with any image I found to represent this enigmatic man.
So, what I had to do is find two photos, and simply say, Colton Rolfe is a combination of these two men pictured here as I pictured him for all that time. I still see him that way, and probably always will.
He is an old friend that finally moved on, and so must I. Now he belongs to the world…which, by the way, he would hate.
How did you picture him? Can you find any photos that most closely resemble how you pictured him as you read? Can you describe him? This goes for Cassandra Brooks too, his most beloved woman. If you could picture her as you read, please leave a description of her too. Would love to hear how you saw them.

New Release "No Gentleman Is He" Available Now

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by Carley Bauer and Lynette Willows
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Young, adventurous and widowed in a new land, Cassandra Courtney Brooks finds her dream of raising a superior breed of saddle horse slipping away with the death of her husband. Left with four horses, living in a tavern attic, and her scant savings depleting, she resolves to see her vision through to fruition by accepting the scandalous position of steward at Varina Farms.
Born in the image of his native ancestry, Colton Rolfe’s savage blood runs through his veins. Scorned by his father, Colt grew into a man of ill temperament whose only interest is the wild equine beasts on his plantation. His desire to breed his horses with the superior Thoroughbreds of the newly widowed Cassandra Brooks leads him to abandon societal rules. Colt’s growing resentment toward the Crown and his assistance to Sons of Liberty missions is complicated by the discovery that Cassandra’s father is a titled English nobleman.
Cassandra is soon forced to question the wisdom of her decision when she finds herself enamored with her employer. As fiery passion grows between them, Cassandra realizes her own spirit of independence, love of the land, and the savage man who is so much a part of it.
As the threat of war comes ever closer, wills are tested through gunfire, treachery, danger, and kidnapping. Does Colt dare trust Casandra with Sons of Liberty secrets? More importantly, can he trust her with his heart? And will Colt ever trust Cassandra enough to love her as she longs to be loved?
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Jackson Lee's Favorite Recipe

In Colonial America, cooking was often a matter of “making do” when it came to ingredients. They were both expensive to buy and hard to find. Most did not have access to them, though often the more prosperous got limited quantities. Many shop keepers also kept a supply, and competition was fierce when the ships finally make port, if the shipment survived the passage. Many ingredients came from Europe, and most of the spices from the Caribbean. The great immigration of Pennsylvania Germans and the Dutch were great influences in the early 1700’s, resulting in many great recipes spreading across the Americas, the most prevalent being apples, rum, nutmeg and cinnamon, used for flavoring and sweetness.
One of the interesting side characters in our book “No Gentleman Is He”, due for release March 7 is Jackson Lee, the practical joking friend of our main character, Colton Rolfe and avid member of the Sons of Liberty, of which this series of books is all about.
Jackson Lee, by the way, will be the main character in Book 2 of the Sons of Liberty series, so you will see more of this fascinating character.
Jackson is constantly trying to recruit, though Colton would say “steal”, our hero’s cook, Martha in “No Gentleman Is He”. This pie is one of the reasons. 

Apple-Almond Crumb Pie (Early American Pie and Jackson Lee’s Favorite)
Makes one 9-inch pie-*recipe to follow
1 lb. *Pate Sucree
5 peeled, cored and sliced apples, preferably Granny Smith
½ c. sugar
½ c. raisins
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
*Almond Crumb Topping
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Grease 9”X1 ½” pie plate with butter.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the Pate Sucree pastry into a 10” diameter circle. Ease the pastry into the prepared pie plate, being careful not to stretch the pastry. Trim the pastry so it reaches ½ in. beyond the edges of the pan, fold under the excess pastry, and crimp.
Prepare the *Almond Crumb Topping and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the apple slices, sugar, raisins, lemon juice, and cinnamon and gently toss to coat. Place the filling into the pastry lined pan. Top with Almond Crumb Topping.
Bake 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden and filling begins to bubble.
Let cool to room temperature, and chill for one hour before serving.

*Pate Sucree
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
6 ounces granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
16 ounces (about 3 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1.2 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
 Sift flour and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, stopping regularly to scrape down the sides, bottom and paddle, about 8 minutes (of course, Colonial cooks did this by hand, quite a workout but well worth the final result – I used the short cut of a mixer, however). Add the egg and yolk one at a time, and beat well between additions (I did this Colonial style and used a whisk). Scrape one more time, then give it a good final mix on high speed.
Stop the mixer. Add the flour, salt, cream and vanilla. Mix on low until the dough comes together. Finish mixing by hand with a large rubber spatula. Divide the dough into two flat, round disks. Double wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.
1 hour before baking, roll out the dough on a heavily floured surface, until it is just shy of 1/4-inch thick. Roll the dough back onto the rolling pin, then gently roll it out over the tart pan. Press the dough into the pan to shape it, then cut off the excess, leaving 1/4-inch of overhang. Chill for one hour.
** the following step is only if it calls for cream-chilled or no-bake fillings. For this recipe, do NOT bake first**
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the tart shell from the fridge, trim the overhang off of the edge of the tart, patch any thin parts or cracks with excess dough. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with weights or beans. Place the tart in the center of the bottom rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove the weights and foil, and continue to bake until the bottom is golden brown, about 15-20 additional minutes. Cool the shell completely before removing from the pan or filling.

*Almond Crumb Topping (pie, cake or cookie topping)
1 ¼ c. flour
1 c. sugar
9 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
½ c. blanched almonds
With a pastry cutter or fork, blend the ingredients until it becomes crumbly like oatmeal. Sprinkle over the pie, cake or cookies.
 I hope you enjoy this delectable desert. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

Colonial Jewelry

18th century Colonial women adorned themselves with a variety of simple, understated jewelry that was influenced by European styles, but often they had to be inventive.
“Heart-in-hand” rings — descended from Roman engagement and wedding rings — were given as tokens of affection by lovers and would-be suitors.
Pearls were a staple in many forms, particularly in necklaces and drop earrings, if they could afford to buy them. Often, they were able to secure pearl-like white beads, called French pearls, or gold beads to string onto strong thread that would then be sewn onto ribbon to tie around the neck with a bow in the back, since they wanted to be attractive from both sides. Often, the ribbon in back would be large and elaborate, even falling as a pleat from the neck down the back of the dress.
Image Image
Single or multiple-strand pearl necklaces were popular because they complimented the deep necklines of the sacque gowns.
Since natural pearls were a rare luxury, women whose portraits were painted wearing the gems often did not own them, but were borrowed or rented from the painter.
Nearer the war in the 1770’s, the ribbons became narrower, usually to hold a suspended drop jewel or locket. Ribbons were also used to around the wrists, and held a sliding mourning brooch with the portrait of the lost relative. Not unusually, ribbons were often replaced by the braided hair of the deceased, almost like today’s friendship bracelets, holding the same mourning brooch that, in some way, honored the deceased person.
Note for photo mourning jewelry: 18-Century American Mourning Jewelry: At the. left is an oval brooch in gold frame engraved: “Frances Blackston, died 30 Augt. 1780, aged 60.” The miniature painting is attributed to John Ramage; center, mourning locket for Dr. Joseph Youle that depicts his tombstone with complete inscription, dated 1795. At the right, miniature locket of Dr. Youle that his wife wore before his death and after that the mourning locket illustrated.
For prosperous, wealthy Colonialists, colored stones, such as amethysts, garnets, and diamonds were used in pre-made, expensive pieces of jewelry, just like today. Often, artificial paste stones were mixed in the settings of precious jewels, to cut the costs for some who wanted to show off their affluence without the heavy costs it would incur if the stones were real.
Women were often forced to construct their own jewelry if the simply couldn’t afford to buy them. Most popular was taking ornate buttons off a favored but worn garment and turning them into earbobs (earrings) or pendants to be worn on ribbons or cheap, linked chains procured from amateur silversmiths in the neighborhood. It was also popular to heavily starch a clipping of lace, whether it be Venetian or French, Irish or Scottish, or fancy material attached to a button, and string it onto a simple hook or clasp for the ears. Often, just pretty stones found on the ground and patiently worked so it could be attached, was used.
These chains were especially popular for the gentlemen, as well, since it was around this time that watch fobs came into fashion. Men would often visit their local silversmith and procure detailed and ornamental gold coat buttons to replace plainer ones on their coats.
Modern replica of a pair of Venetian lace earrings, design taken from the Colonial era.

The Men of Our Fantasies

Who is your ideal romantic hero?
Is it the rough and tumble man, the cowboy, the strong but silent type? Or is the charming, well spoken, impeccably groomed business man portraying financial and commercial power? Is he gentle, domineering, strong or bookish, a man of action or one who thinks before he acts?
In “No Gentleman is He”, the first book in our Sons of Liberty series of Historical Romance set in the time of the American Revolution, Colton Rolfe is a surly, angry, tall, dark and handsome type who is rather tough to handle. Our heroine, Cassandra Courtney Brooks, is initially intimidated by him, as anyone would be. But soon, as she finds her voice and her heart, she becomes more than capable of meeting him insult for insult, and passion for passion. She is a strong, determined woman, rare for that time period. At first, Colt may find her irritating and exasperating, but he soon finds he admires the very qualities frowned upon by 18th Century standards. He has no patience for shrinking violets, and Cassandra, he soon finds, is far from that. Image
Many women will not find this particular hero appealing to live with in real life, but in fictional romance, he is exciting and perhaps, on some level, a challenge to tame. He is like the dark stallion that he loves, snorting and pawing the ground in anticipation of a fight, a fiery spirit ready to defend what is his. When he finds his heart completely enveloped by Cassandra, he will do anything to make her his, though his temper often makes it hard for her to get close. In some ways, he actually sabotages the very relationship he longs to have with her. They are both stubborn, which only adds to the conflict and the fun.
In reality, he would probably drive most of us women crazy. To Cassandra, our heroine, he is exactly what she has been longing for all her life, for she too needs taming, and Colton is capable of the job. Do you like a man who takes control in your imagination, but not in real life?
I wonder if readers are more attracted to heroes that are overpowering, challenging and exciting but impossible to live with for any normal woman, or are they attracted to the everyday, normal man, who happens to be drop dead gorgeous (of course, aren’t they all?) and who is supportive and completely understanding, who cries when Bambi dies and takes in every stray dog, and tells you everything about his day?
There are many species of men who fall somewhere in between, with a mixture of our favorite characteristics. I’d love to hear from readers and other writers. Who are your favorite heroes who make your heart go a-flutter. What kind of man is invited to park their slippers by your beside anytime, and who is invited to rest on your bookshelf?
For the two may be completely different.
I would love to hear what you think. Who knows, it may influence who my next hero will be in my next book.

Excerpt from "No Gentleman Is He" Released March 7, 2013

Young, adventurous and widowed in a new land, Cassandra Courtney Brooks and her deceased husband dreamt of raising a superior breed of saddle horse. Now she found herself left with four horses, living in a tavern attic and her scant savings depleted when her husband perished. With a resolve to see her vision to fruition, the young widow accepts the scandalous position of steward at Varina Farms rather than return to the aristocracy she left behind in England.  Cassandra is soon forced to question the wisdom of her decision when she finds herself enamored with the lusty and dangerous owner.
Born in the image of his dark skinned great-grandmother, Pocahontas, it was rumored Colton Rolfe carried the savagery of his Indian ancestor. Scorned by his father, Colt grew into a man of ill temperament who’s only true love was the wild equine beasts on his plantation. His desire to breed his horses with the superior Saddlebreds of the newly widowed Cassandra Brooks left him defying all societal rules when he offered her a position at Varina Farms.
Cassandra needed a place to house her horses and earn income. Colton wanted a steward for his tobacco plantation and breeding rights to her horses. Both fought the attraction growing between them. Their story unfolds with Colt’s growing resentment toward the crown’s proposed taxes and his assistance to Sons of Liberty missions, complicated by the discovery that Cassandra’s father is a titled Englishman. How can he trust the daughter of an English aristocrat?
A fiery passion grows between them through gunfire, treachery, and danger culminating in a kidnapping. Cassandra begins to realize her own spirit of independence and love of the land, and the savage man who is so much a part of it. But will he ever trust her enough to love her as she longed to be loved?
A book of suspense, romance, and historical surprises. 
Excerpt from “No Gentleman Is He”, 
Book #1 of the Sons of Liberty series
Cassandra and Colton left Boston Wednesday afternoon, one day after the battle of Lexington and Concord. With minimal sleep before their departure, the strain between the two mounted. Adding to the contention, started by her refusal to stay where she’d promised, Jackson rode ahead to scout, leaving the two to ride quietly together, stewing in their juices. By the second night, the discord rose to near unbearable proportions.
Though Cassandra knew it was in part, her fault, Colton again refused to listen to any explanation she offered. If he could remain unapproachable, then so could she. As evening drew near, she looked to another night of cooking and eating in silence. She cheered herself with the thought that by tomorrow they would be out of dangerous territory and Jackson would rejoin them. Though it would not mend the problems between her and Colton, Jackson’s jovial demeanor would lighten the dark mood that settled over them since the night of Concord and Lexington.
“Watch yourself.” Colton said, nodding to the ground. “There are downed limbs and thick mud.”
Unused to hearing no more than a grunt from him, Cassandra turned. Upon seeing the terse look on his face, the compressed lips, she took a snippy tone with him. “It may surprise you, Colton, but it rains in England where I learned to ride. I’m certain I can weave my way through the muck without your direction.”
“Casey, a ditch!”
Cassandra sucked in her breath at his sharp tone. Before she could look, Thunder’s front legs skidded into the hole. Despite tightening her hold on the reins, she lost her balance and slid sideways from the horse, rolling away for safety. She sat upright, rubbing her backside.
Colton dismounted, extending his hand. “Are you hurt?”
“Only my pride.” She muttered as they walked toward Thunder. Both checked her beloved animal for twisted ankles, ruling out any injuries. Satisfied the stallion was no worse for the wear, Colton turned toward her, his lips compressed and eyes stormy.
“You and the horse could have both suffered severe injury due to your recklessness. Your unruly behavior has cast you in a bad light several times.”
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “A bad light? Several times? I might have been careless for turning my head, ignoring the dangers of unfamiliar terrain but I see no reason for you to make false accusations!”
 ”Skulking outside of my door while Jackson and I discussed the letter from my sister is another example. A mistake on your part, that led us to bring you to Boston.”
“How needless was that?” She shot back. The unbearable silence of their ride bubbled to the surface with Colton’s rude insinuations. “Though without me, I fear you and Jackson would have been hard-pressed to find a safe place to stay.” Tilting her head in indignation, she boldly added, “Not that you have the good manners to thank me for my efforts.”
“I thanked your aunt, who housed us.” Colton’s lip curled. “It wasn’t your house, Casey.”
Infuriated, she placed her hands on either hip, stepping closer to him. “I should have left you to rot in whatever horse prison the British soldiers would have thrown you in instead of rescuing you.”
“A little late for regrets now.” He said.
“Were my horses not in Virginia, I’d have had a good mind to stay in Boston with Aunt Abby.” She added for good measure, still aggravated by his harsh remarks.
With darkness falling around them, he saw little reason to ride further and began setting up camp. “You don’t obey my requests, I’m sure you’d prove too much for your aunt to handle.”
She sighed heavily.”If this is about my leaving the house and returning to Aunt Abby’s, the officer was going to take my horse. I couldn’t allow that.”Her voice softened. Perhaps he had been concerned for her welfare. “Truly Colton, I didn’t mean to cause you worry.”
Colton started the campfire, his back remaining toward her. “You flatter yourself, Casey. My only concern was the bother of finding another housekeeper should you be irrational enough to get yourself killed.”
His words stung and she blinked back the unexpected tears that welled in her eyes. Her voice shaky, she managed one last shot. “Not so irrational that I would have let myself be killed before retrieving my horses from your greedy possession, I assure you!”
Colton turned. She was struck by how handsome he was when the campfire illuminated his dark skin and Native American features. Even angry and hurt, her heart overflowed with emotion when his gaze fell upon her.
“My greed has its limits, Casey. If the weather holds up, we’ll make Philadelphia by late afternoon. We’ll stop there. I have a letter of introduction to a Thomas Mifflin.”
The edge in his voice had lessened and she eagerly responded. “Thomas Mifflin?”
The tension between she and Colton dissipated as they worked together cooking squirrel for their evening meal. She stirred the pan over the fire, while Colton talked about their stop in Philadelphia.
“Dr. Warren discussed the need for horses if we’re to win independence from England,” Colton said. “I’m prepared to offer up fifty from Varina’s stock. Mifflin is the president of the Continental Congress and set to take on the position of Quarter Master General. At least according to Warren.”
Cassandra gazed over at Colton, struck by his unusual generosity. Surely he knew some of these horses would not return and she doubted he would receive more than a bill of goods for them. How likely was the rag-tag Continental Army to continue to stand strong against the well-trained and organized British?
He reached over, tenderly swiping at the hair that fell across her forehead. “Surprised?”
“I shouldn’t have made the comment about greed.” Her tone was apologetic and he laughed.  Confused, she asked, “Why send horses you may never be paid for?”
Colton cut up the cooked meat and took hearty bite. “If we want independence from England, I am no better to sacrifice than the rest. I have something to offer. It goes without saying I prefer to be paid at the end of the war.”
“It was Dr. Warren who changed your mind, wasn’t it?” Cassandra asked.
“He’s leaving his patients to fight with the army. Revere and Dawes have very little but they are willing to set their lives aside to fight.” He shrugged. “Makes a man think.”
They finished their modest meal in comfortable silence. As obstinate as Colton could be, there was warmth beneath the surface. One Cassandra wanted to know better, though she doubted she ever would. Colton guarded his feelings like a fortress.