Top 10 Reasons to Travel to Victorian England

by Isabel Cooper, guest blogger and author of No Proper Lady

When Joan, the heroine of No Proper Lady, finds herself back in Victorian England, she’s pretty happy about it. Sure, she takes issue with some expectations for women—but compared to the post-apocalyptic future she came from, where demon lords rule the Earth, 1888 is a pretty easy time to live. Since my time includes more lattes and laptops and fewer tentacled things trying to eat my face, I think I’d be less enthused about going back permanently.

As a tourist, though? Absolutely. Get me some money, a fake name, and a chance to go back to the twenty-first century next time I get a cavity, and I’d take all my vacation days in Victorian England. Here’s why:

10. An Age of Discovery! Evolution, spiritualism, railways, automobiles—the Victorian era was as inventive and controversial as our own, and people really seemed to get invested in the theories as well as the gadgets. They also used More Capital Letters, which may or may not be a good thing.

9. Travel Was Fun. If you had the money, first class on a railway sounds like it beats any road trip I ever took. Plush seats, private compartments, and great dining when you stop, plus nobody would be talking on their cell phone. Likewise, I’d much rather cross the ocean by boat than by plane if I could go in luxury. Sure, it’s slower, but that brings me to my next point…

8. Life Was Slower.  Which is weird, because I am not a patient woman—ask anyone. But maybe that means it would do me good to go to a time and place where I had to slow down and take it easy. Maybe I’d take more in, relax a little, and be better for it. Sounds nice, anyhow.

7. Food. Again, this is one of those things that depends on having money. But if you did…wow. I’ve seen some menus from the time. Meat. Cream. Pastries that defy the imagination. I would explode, but I would enjoy myself until I did.

6. You’re a Time Traveler.  In itself, that’s pretty cool. You can try and change the past; if you can’t change the past, you can always make strangely knowing predictions and impress young men/women; and you can always hope to run into David Tennant.

5. The Clothes (Women). Oh my God, the clothes—and the reasons to wear them. In my daily life, it’s hard not to just wander around in jeans and a turtleneck, and while that’s good in its way, I’d love to have some motivation to make myself all pretty and have tea, or go dancing, or similar.

4. Dancing. Yes, people dance today. I do it myself, and it’s fun—and the ratio of men to women in most dancing groups my age is not great. Back in the 1800s, men who danced were not rare and majestic creatures like the noble…I’ve run out of metaphor here, but you get my point.

3. Active Recreation. Or at least different recreation. I like video games as well as the next geek girl, but it would be nice to sing for fun, or dance, or ride horses or row boats—and to have those things be regular amusements rather than once-in-a-while novelties.

2. Meeting Future Famous People. Darwin. Dickens.  Tennyson. Eliot. You could have harsh words with Freud, if you wanted, and maybe set him straight about a few things. Why not?

1. The Clothes (Men). Insofar as I have recently been a single young woman, and insofar as the baseball cap dude-bro look does not flatter one single person ever, and neither does the cartoon-t-shirt neckbeard look…I would so not mind an era when the average guy wore a nice suit regularly. Nope. Would not mind that at all.

NO PROPER LADY BY ISABEL COOPER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011

It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.

Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.

Buy: No Proper Lady

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2011. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of No Proper Lady for 2 lucky readers. Open to US and Canadian readers/addresses only. Enter by leaving a comment about why you would want to visit Victorian England! Last Day to Enter: October 15, 2011.

12 Signs You’ve Traveled Backwards in Time

By popular request from 10 Ways to Time Travel in Romance I present to you 12 Signs You’ve Traveled Backwards in Time.

  1. It sounds like English but you’ve no idea what is being said. This is called old English. It even looks funny written out.
  2. The buildings look really funny and quaint. It’s like you’re back in some medieval village themepark.
  3. Everywhere you look you see and smell horses. Phew. Stinky. (They didn’t have pick up your horse manure laws back then like they do now with dog poop.)
  4. People stare at your clothes, makeup, shoes, and funny hairstyle. You whore! Oh wait — there’s the really enlightened hero to the rescue. Stick you’re tongue out at all those small minded folks and go “Nah nah nah” that will really wind them up!
  5. Men and women alike are appalled by your ill manners and forwardness. Shoot, have they never heard of the 21st century? Oh wait that’s right, they haven’t!
  6. Instead of flipping on a switch for light, you’re required to light a candle. Better have matches on your person… well that or a highly badged ex-girl scout hiding under the bed.
  7. Got boots? You’re going to need them to get around because roads are unpaved and mucky nine times out of ten, unless they’re cobbled and then your boots will insulate your feet from the hard stones.
  8. The bathroom is a pot. Where’s the toilet? When does that get invented again? You might have to wait a long while. (Conveniently forgets to mention that toilet paper isn’t around either, whistles innocently and walks away.)
  9. Your teeth look nicer than anybody else’s. If you were back in your own time you know a good dentist you could recommend to get their teeth fixed. In the meantime, they all stare at your shiny choppers.
  10. You haven’t been able to find anything proper to brush your teeth with and your breath is starting to get funky. Unfortunately for you the evil villain with even worst breath than your beloved dog Charlie’s halitosis thinks your breath is like a fresh rose compared to all the other ladies around. On second thought, you might go back to the present and strangle your dentist.
  11. Your sexy enlightened hero thinks protection means one of two things: pulling out before coming or one of those sheep skin condoms with bows to secure them in place. How you long for a normal box of prophylactics size extra extra large!
  12. The medical help… not so great. You do not want to get pregnant in the past because of the high mortality rates in giving birth. Not to mention they thought babies could eat solids and the wet nursemaids probably soaked a cloth in dirty slightly milky water when feeding your kid. If you’re kid doesn’t breastfeed he’s going to get formula and Gerber’s baby food!

Photo Credits: geebee2007

Review: A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware

by Karin, guest reviewer from Savvy Thinker

A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware is being reissued — it is a good choice for reissue for those of us, like me, who never read it the first time — with some

new material on brain function, chemistry, and recent findings in the scientific literature about the power of our minds to make us sick or well.

This book is an interesting mix of genres — romance, romantic suspense, gothic romance, possible time travel, and possible past life experiences.  Hypnosis figures into it also.

Where past, present, and future collide…

Blythe Barton Stowe has fled to Cornwall to heal from a nasty, public divorce from her successful Hollywood husband.  He was unfaithful to her in the most egregious way, with her sister, who is now pregnant with the child her husband refused to conceive with her.  Blythe had been an important part of their successful movie team in her own right, but the way she was treated in the divorce proceedings did not grant her that.

The saving grace is that even her lawyer helps her stay far from the limelight — which shows the kind of loyalty Blythe inspires.  Immediately this gave me insight into her character.

Cornwall is where her family line began, or so the story has been told her.  So it seems a natural place for her to go to heal her wounds.  She is understandably angry, hurt, and wanting a kind of revenge that she refuses to nurse.  The disloyalty of her sister and her then-husband, now -ex, is more than she can bear, made more so because of his immediate remarriage upon the divorce.  And you can imagine the field day the paparazzi are having at her expense.

Once she gets to the wild coastline in Cornwall, unusual things begin to happen.  She finds herself pulled back into the past on more than one occasion, when she touches the glass of a genealogy chart.  Some of the past life happenings (or life in the past) were scary to me, not knowing where they will lead.  It seems as though she is living out some kind of karmic present life, which is different from the past, but seems to stem from it.

Along the way, she falls in love with the owner of the estate she is living on (which also happens to be the family estate she comes from.)

A lot of information is given about brain function in situations of complex grieving, but it never crosses into didactism.  It just seems part of the story.  This is a feat in itself and shows what a good writer Ware is.

While several of the reviewers on the cover mention staying up all night to finish reading the book, I read it more slowly than some I read, in order to savor the story and its environs.  At the same time, this was because of the gothic nature of it.  I wasn’t sure where it was going or if I’d like to know.  This also made it more difficult for me, because I wanted to know where it was going and I wanted to get there faster.

Generally I do not read historical romance (and the historical part was not particularly romantic, it was more tragic and involved a triangle of sorts or a quadrangle and this put it into the gothic category, with the steep clifts, etc.)  I was never quite sure if Blythe would decide to end it all, not necessarily because she was led that way, but because her leaping into the past was making her question her sanity, to a degree.  And it is interesting that one of the characters in the past does commit suicide and is not in his right mind when he does it.  And there is a suspected death/suicide which didn’t in reality happen.

If you like an interesting story, with the need to suspend reality to a degree, and you like gothic romances, even a modern one, this book is for you. It was a very interesting read with well developed characters, including a child and another woman who desires to become the estate owner’s wife.  There is also a nice settling of the differences with her ex-husband, made easier because she was now in love with another man.  It was definitely a good read, albeit sometimes difficult to read.  It is a thinking woman’s romance, not escapism.  It deals with complex issues in an interesting way.

Have you read this one, either in its first printing or now in its second?

Rating: I give it 4 stars.

Buy: A Cottage by the Sea

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Review: Legacy by Jeanette Baker

by Aggie S., guest reviewer

Summary: Christina Murray recently divorced decides to go to Scotland after receiving a letter from Ellen Maxwell asking her to come. She had been visiting various parts of Scotland throughout the years and this was an invitation to come to the oldest manor in Scotland that has survived 800 years. Upon her arrival Ms. Maxwell dies without telling Christina why she invited her. Christina learns that she is to inherit Traquair House.

Traquir House is open to the public for tours, but Christina decides to cancel those for a brief time after she starts having dreams of being back in the 13th century. The one servant, who lives at the house, seems efficient enough in her job that Christina lets her stay. She meets one of the neighbors and falls head over heels for him right from the start. He apparently feels the same way. She shares her dream with him and they decide to pursue the meaning of them. Kate, the servant and Ian are working together to uncover and discover truths behind Tranquair House and it’s curse.

Review: This book is interesting, but not one I would consider to be a steady read. There is so much bouncing between the dreams and reality it is hard to sometimes differentiate between the two and the dreams seem to be dragged out more than necessary. What finally worked for me was that the end of the story was not quite what I expected.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Legacy

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Review: Where the Rain is Made by Keta Diablo

Hero: Ethan Gray has pledged his life to the People (Cheyenne) and when they need him he goes straightaway to the council where he’s given his orders. Ethan is a time-traveling shifter who can transform into a raven. When he returns to the past to lead the Cheyenne’s Dog Soldiers he melds perfectly into their lives. They never know he’s just a temporary visitor. His Cheyenne name is I Am The Wind or Meko.

Heroine: Francesca Duvall’s life changes in an instant when I Am the Wind appears before her in a clearing during an Indian attack. He captures her and her brother is capture by another. Cesca’s life hangs in the balance and so does Marsh’s. Lucky for her, Meko wants her as his wife. Not so lucky is Marsh’s treatment at the hands of his captor. Saving him, means risking herself, but Cesca will do it nevertheless.

Review: The overall writing quality is excellent and if two initial plot points hadn’t occurred I would have been swept away into the story without a word to the contrary (except for the many Indian names, which sometimes appear only once or twice and never again).

As it was, I found it hard to swallow the instant lust/love on Cesca’s side. Meko’s attraction and love yes, because the author built up that he dreamed about her as Ethan, but for Cesca she’s much too strongly opposed to the Cheyenne and Meko at first to believably fall head long over heels for him. I feel this should have dragged out a little longer, but the author was working a long timeline with many things to fit in and the initial stirrings suffered for it.

The other plot point ties into this one and its Cesca’s initial feelings and prejudices for the Cheyenne seem to disappear rather too quickly for someone who didn’t want to change into their clothes or initial partake in their life. Because of the initial start as a reader I kept pulling out of the story trying to logically figure out the relationship pacing and when the angsty moment came for their temporary breakup (a part I usually love) I just wanted to smack Cesca upside the head. She’s nearly raped and then blames Meko for saving her of all things because it got too messy for her (you know with killing the evil white soldiers.)

I did like the ending and how the time travel was handled… unexpected and fun! This is an epic feeling novel compacted into a few hundred pages. I enjoyed the story and wouldn’t mind following another time traveling shifter Native American back into the past as the world building by Diablo is very well done and likeable. Perhaps Marsh’s tale?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Where the Rain is Made

Review: The Return of Black Douglas by Elaine Coffman

by Aggie S., guest reviewer

Time travel romance is not the same thing as sci-fi romance or sci-fi time travel. In The Return of Black Douglas, there is no bouncing back and forth between different times, but there is a ghost. Twin sisters Isobella and Elizabeth Douglas, go to Scotland to trace their ancestors and learn about their past relatives as a trade off for a honeymoon that never took place, because Isobel’s fiance took off with his dance teacher instead.

This story starts in present time as the girls are starting their day exploring tombs of Douglas ancestors. They find the effigy of The Good Sir James of Douglas and Isobel is so overcome with emotion that she cries. That night Isobel dreams about a medieval dark haired man who wanted to make love to her. The next day the sisters plan on visiting Beloyn Castle and the portrait of the Black Douglas, who died in the fourteenth century. They are in awe of the painting and Isobel touches the bottom of his boot then everything goes black.

The ghost of the Black Douglas has whisked them from the present day, to the sixteenth century to the Isle of Mull, Scotland. They have absolutely no idea where they are and he is not giving them any straight answers. Do ghosts ever give straight answers? ;)

As for the hero, Chieftain Alysandir Mackinnon, he and the rest of the Mackinnon clan are on their way back from delivering their sister to a nunnery, because she does not wish to wed a Maclean when they are ambushed by the Macleans. During the battle the Douglas girls are noticed by the men. Fighting stops and the Macleans look as if they are leaving but then four men on horseback go after the girls. They run but Isobel falls into a crag and the Macleans sweep up Elizabeth and ride off with her. Two of the Mackinnons give chase to save her from them and Alysandir Mackinnon goes after Isobel.

The story continues on with Isobel at Marrach Castle while Elizabeth is with the Macleans at Duart Castle. The ghost of the Black Douglas appears occasionally to answer (but not really answer) Isobel’s questions and he gives no indication as to when or if they will return to their own time, only saying that the answers will be appearing when the time is right. The girls fear being called witches at first and then find some acceptance as to their being there. They are some interesting things that happen throughout the story but you must read it to find out what happens.

I think The Return of Black Douglas is a great book to cuddle up on the couch. The use of current English, Gaelic and old English makes this book an interesting read and gives an idea how they spoke in Medieval times while the translations to current times help understanding.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Return of Black Douglas

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Review: Healing the Highlander by Melissa Mayhue

Heroine: Leah (Noble) MacQuarrie doesn’t belong in medieval Scotland though she’s determined to do so. She’s actually from the future, but has lived in Scotland now for 12 years. Coming to Scotland was the best thing for her because it got her away from the Nuadian Fae who tortured her and planned to use her as a breeder for powerful half human/half fae babies. Life with the MacQuarries has been good, but then with the return of estranged Richard (Dick) everything goes downhill. He imprisons his father in a quick bloodless coup and Leah is the only one able to get out of the keep to find help… from the fae MacKiernan clan.

Hero: Andrew MacAlister has lived in pain ever since a horrible fae attack. His leg is badly messed up and requires a lot of physical work to keep it loose. A trip to find a cure is put on hold when he pulls Leah out of the water and hears her story to reach Dun Ard, he agrees to take her without telling her it’s his home. English soldiers escort them all the way there and a fabricated marriage is the only thing keeping Leah from being captured and returned to her uncle, Richard.

Review: You don’t necessarily have to read the other books in the series to pick this book up and enjoy it, but I think you’ll be able to follow characters/relationships/cameos better and make connections otherwise lost to you. I managed to pick up a lot after reading a bit even though I haven’t read any of the books prior to Healing the Highlander. It’s clear there are intricate relationships and histories (several characters in the past are from the future) and extensive world building that were built up through the previous books.

Favorite Scene: The ending sequence where Drew realizes just how Leah’s fae power works. Angsty and fabulous.

Daughters of the Glen Series:

  1. Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband
  2. Highland Guardian
  3. Soul of a Highlander
  4. A Highlander of Her Own
  5. A Highlander’s Destiny
  6. A Highlander’s Homecoming
  7. Healing the Highlander
  8. Highlander’s Curse

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Healing the Highlander

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Review: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

Dark Mirror can be summed up in four words: magic, romance, time travel.

The Story: When Lady Victoria (Tory) Mansfield performs magic in front of a bunch of witnesses at her mother’s annual lawn party her father banishes her to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for magic tainted aristocrats.

There Tory meets two very different girls. The first is Elspeth, the biggest outcast at Lackland Abbey. She’s can’t wait to leave, but refuses to reject her magic to make that escape. In fact she openly embraces it. Then there is Cynthia, a bossy conceited roommate, who like Tory wants nothing more than to get out of Lackland as soon as possible which means renouncing magic.

When Tory discovers an underground secret society of Lackland students working to learn and embrace their magic instead of get rid of it, she’s intrigued. In a world where upward mobility and good matches hinged on how normal you were, what could possibly entice nobles to give up the luxuries of being wealthy privileged sons and daughters? In a word: nationalism. The threat of Napoleon invading Britain is enough to spark pride and determination to see Britain through impending war no matter the cost.

One night they get raided and during the escape Tory distracts the mages and mortals hunting them. A chase forces her into a dead end with a large mirror. Thinking she could hide behind it, Tory touches it and finds herself transported to the future, during WWII.

The Romance: While the story focuses primarily on themes like girl power, coming of age, accepting yourself and making the right choices, there is also a romance. As the only son of a Duke, Marquis Justin Allarde, is the most eligible boy at Lackland Abbey. Sparks of magic sizzle between Tory and Allarde the first time their gazes lock together. It’s something Allarde fights tooth and nail because of his own secret, one that’s haunted him, hanging over his head for a long time. A secret that threatens their romance before it even has a chance to blossom.

I’m ready for the sequel. Are you?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Dark Mirror

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