Tag Archives: Duke of a Gilded Age

RONE Awards – Duke of a Gilded Age

2014 RONE Awards Week One has begun!  Duke of a Gilded Age has DukeofaGildedAge_432been nominated under the category of Young Adult, and I need your vote to make it into the finals. Voting is only open until March 16th, so don’t wait! Go HERE to vote. As an extra incentive, if you leave a comment, below, letting me know you’ve voted, I’ll enter you into a drawing to win your choice of ANY of my e-books in Nook or Kindle format (go HERE for the full list). I’ll draw the winner on March 18th, before noon EST. I cannot win without YOU, so please, please vote! ~ S.G. Rogers

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arrow1twistingPSST…Haven’t read Duke of a Gilded Age yet? It’s on sale at Amazon through March 16th only.  Pick up a copy for $0.99 (regularly $2.99) HERE.

Author S.G. Rogers – Double RONE Nominee

I’m plDukeofaGildedAge_432eased to announce two of my novels have been nominated by InD’Tale Magazine for a 2014 RONE (Reward of Novel ExcellenceYden_Book2) Award. Under the category of Young Adult is my historical romance Duke of a Gilded Age, and under the category of Young Adult Paranormal is my fantasy novel Children of Yden.  I don’t write for awards, but it’s certainly nice to be recognized! ~ S.G. Rogers

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Victorian-Era Walking Sticks to Stir the Imagination

Dandys_1830In my Victorian-era romance Duke of a Gilded Age, Wesley is obliged to hire a valet to tend to his new wardrobe and help him navigate the potential minefield of moving in Society as an American duke. Bristling at the idea he can no longer dress himself nor enjoy the complete freedom he’d had in Brooklyn, Wesley is determined to hire someone who will stay out of his way. When valet candidate Cavendish appears, he represents himself as a drunk who enjoys baseball–thereby fulfilling all of Wesley’s requirements. Although Cavendish wins the job, he quickly proves himself to be much more than he seems…starting with a rather extraordinary collection of walking sticks.

Excerpt:

As he reached for a freshly baked fruit muffin, Wesley noticed yet another one of Cavendish’s walking sticks propped up in the corner. This one was slender, fashioned of a highly polished dark wood, and sported a deep blue cut‐glass knob handle. I wonder how many walking sticks the man has?

Since there was much to be done, Cavendish didn’t allow his master to linger overlong at breakfast. After Wesley bathed, the valet gave him a shave and manicure. Wesley examined his buffed fingernails, impressed.

“I’m not uncouth anymore,” he said.

“I daresay you never were, Your Grace.”

“Tell me, Cavendish, how many walking sticks do you own?”

“I’ve never actually counted them, Your Grace, but I am quite the collector.”

Wesley read Jules Verne until his mother was ready to go, while Cavendish sat nearby reading a pocket‐sized copy of L’Art de la Guerre. Wesley gave the book’s title a curious glance.

“Is that French?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s The Art of War by Chinese military general Sun Tzu.”

“He speaks French?”

“No, he lived thousands of years ago. This is a translation from Chinese.”

“Why don’t you read it in English?”

“Sadly, the English translation does not yet exist.”

Wesley returned to his book, puzzled. The man is extremely learned for a valet. Could there be more to Cavendish than meets the eye?

ornament29Walking Stick Compass image courtesy Design ToscanoAn an author, my imagination is seized by the idea of Victorian-era walking sticks serving more than one purpose. Cavendish has all manner of decorative walking sticks, but he also has a very cool walking stick with a compass, a tippling stick containing a compartment in which alcohol can be stored, and a cane with a blade for self-defense. Although admittedly low-tech, it’s rather James Bond-ish, to my way of thinking.  Here are a few resources, if you’re inclined to do further research or purchase one for yourself. Some of these walking sticks are truly amazing works of art. Like Cavendish, I suspect one could build an impressive and fun collection.

~ S.G. Rogers

Design Toscano

Scotties Walking Sticks & Canes (UK)

Ebay

M.S. Rau Antiques

Antique Cane World

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Waltzing in the Victorian Era

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My favorite historical romance movies tend to have dancing scenes in them… so when I wrote Duke of a Gilded Age, I made sure to put plenty of dancing in it.  The year is 1890, and when the old Duke of Mansbury passes away, Belle accompanies her attorney father to American to retrieve Mansbury’s heir, Brooklyn-born Wesley Parker. On the Transatlantic voyage back to England, Belle, Wesley and some of the young American “aristocracy” form a dance club to practice the waltz.

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Detail from frontispiece to Thomas Wilson’s Correct Method of German and French Waltzing (1816). Image courtesy Wikipedia.

As a dance, the waltz had a somewhat scandalous reputation in early 19th century England, due to the fact it required the gentleman to put his hand around the lady’s waist. Nevertheless, as the years marched on (in 3/4 time?), the waltz became increasingly accepted–probably because ladies knew it showed them to their best advantage!

Below is a lovely video showcasing the Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss, written in 1889, as performed on the piano. (It’s the same piece performed by Stacy Egermann during the first dance club meeting on board the SS City of New York.)  Enjoy! ~ S.G. Rogers

Saturday Sample – Excerpt from Duke of a Gilded Age

Bow_Bridge_in_Central_Park_on_Thanksgiving_2010In Duke of a Gilded Age, Belle and Wesley have had a bit of a rocky start to their relationship. In this excerpt, the two manage to have a pleasant interlude as they tour 1890 Central Park.

Excerpt:

At the center of Bow Bridge, Belle and Wesley leaned out over against the cast‐iron railing to watch the water rippling on the surface of the lake.

“I’m so glad you brought me here,” she said. “Do you suppose those men in the rowboats brought their lady friends here to propose?”

“It’s entirely possible. Let’s watch to see which boat tips over when the gentleman gets down on one knee.”

She laughed. “I admire your sense of humor. Errol is always so dignified.”

“Errol…is that your fiancé?”

“Yes. Sir Errol Blankenship. He’s a knight.”

“Does he have a white horse?”

“What? Oh, you’re joking with me again!”

“A bit. No offense meant.”

“None taken. I may seem serious on the outside, you see, but I like to laugh. I’m frequently filled with flights of fancy.”

“What marvelous alliteration! I solemnly salute your sagacious soliloquy.”

“Aha! I pay homage to the haste of your homily.”

Wesley doffed his derby hat and bowed from the waist. “I’m decidedly defeated by your deft debate.”

“You can’t be defeated until we conquer the castle together,” she said. “Lead on!”

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Duke of a Gilded Age Blurb:

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

To return to Sweet Saturday Samples for more excerpts in all genres, go HERE

Historical Research – Details of Dining

Assume for a moment you’re an author, writing a historical novel based in 1890.  Your two main characters arrive at the Fifth Avenue Hotel for dinner and once seated order the… er… what do they order? One could choose to gloss over the menu entirely, of course, or use generic terms such as beef, fish, or chicken. There was no ‘Spa Cuisine’ or ‘Fusion’ dishes in 1890, but if the story isn’t about the food, does it really matter what the characters eat?  Well, to this author, it did.  In my mind, what people were eating in that era and what the food was called, was important to creating an authentic atmosphere. Unfortunately, unless one’s great-great grandmother tucked the actual hotel menu away in a scrapbook passed down through the generations, how is one to know what was on the menu? Fortunately, there is a project at the New York Public Library that has preserved many menus from a myriad of hotels and other venues. The website is called What’s on the Menu?, and not only has this project scanned in actual historical menus (from the 1850s on), but it is also in the process of transcribing the menus so they can be searchable. FthAveHotelmenu1897 The database isn’t perfect; it doesn’t contain every menu from every venue for every day of the year, for example. But for me, it became an invaluable resource. Should I wish to write a novel set in 1851 Boston, I will now know what the Bill of Fare at the Revere House was, including the wine list. I think that’s pretty darn cool.

~ S.G. Rogers

DukeofaGildedAge_432Blurb:

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

Excerpt:

Because the dining room had just opened for dinner, the Parkers and Oakhursts had a table largely to themselves. Not including dessert, there were seven courses to choose from, with several different kinds of soup, fish, boiled dishes, cold dishes, entrées, roasts, and vegetables. Unused to so much abundant food, Wesley agonized over the menu. Finally, he ordered chowder, an entrée of beef filet with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and baked tomatoes. He ate everything set in front of him and still had room for a serving of custard pie afterward.

Belle selected roast chicken for her entrée, along with sweet potatoes and stewed tomatoes. Mr. Oakhurst was delighted with his roast beef and potatoes, which looked so delicious that Wesley vowed to order it next time. A glance at Lady Frederic confirmed she was enjoying her lamb cutlets.

“You look somewhat restored, Mother,” he said. “When Miss Oakhurst and I came in after our walk, you seemed distracted.”

She breathed a happy sigh. “That’s putting it politely. When I saw all our new things, I began to feel overwhelmed. Truly, I’m not sure how I’ll manage the crossing by myself. I hope there will be a steward or stewardess on the ship whom I can call upon.”

“There are both, but you don’t have to manage alone, milady,” Mr. Oakhurst said. “I’ve contacted the Mrs. A.E. Johnson Employment Agency on your behalf. If you’d like to interview candidates for a lady’s maid, you can begin tomorrow after breakfast.”

Delighted, Wesley laughed. “My mother is to have her own maid?”

“The agency also has several highly qualified valets for your consideration, Your Grace,” Mr. Oakhurst said.

“A valet? Like Passepartout in Around the World in Eighty Days?” Wesley snorted. “That’s silly.”

“You must hire someone to attend to your wardrobe and personal needs,” Lady Frederic said.

“You’re not serious?” Wesley shook his head in dismay. “What if I don’t want a valet? I can dress myself, thank you very much!”

ornament29Duke of a Gilded Age is available in Kindle format HERE.

Excerpt from DUKE OF A GILDED AGE – The Transatlantic Dance Club

Dance engagements card circa 1887

Excerpt:

Her waltz with Carl ended, the couples rotated, and Belle found herself paired with Stephen. To her relief, he behaved in an exemplary fashion. He’s likely on his best behavior
because his mother is watching! As their dance went on, she even enjoyed herself to the extent she was able. When the last chords of the music faded, the next rotation brought
Belle face to face with Wesley. She curtsied in response to his bow, and they jockeyed slightly to achieve the proper hold. Please don’t let him feel me trembling! Cavendish played a few bars as an introduction and Wesley flinched—as if unsure whether or not to move.

“Wait,” Belle whispered. “Ready…now.”

Exactly on the beat, Wesley stepped out and Belle followed. They made one complete rotation, and then another. His careful and studied movements were common for a
beginner, but his instincts, grace, and timing were admirable. I knew Wesley would be a good dancer. A burst of pride brought a brief smile to her lips, followed closely by the surge
of emotions she’d kept at bay. To her horror, her eyes grew moist and her throat tightened. She focused on the space over his right shoulder and for the remainder of the waltz she
worked the multiplication table in her head to avoid thinking about anything else. At the end, she stepped back and curtsied.

“Well done, Wesley,” she murmured.

“I nearly blundered at the start, didn’t I?”

“An understandable mistake for anyone unfamiliar with the music.”

Belle rotated into Horatio’s arms. Her inner turmoil eased as she waltzed with him, until Wesley danced past with Louise. His playful smile and easy manner with Louise drove
a sliver of ice through Belle’s heart.

Eighteen times eighteen is three hundred twenty-four.

ornament29DukeofaGildedAge_432When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

Available at Amazon HERE

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New Victorian Romance – Duke of a Gilded Age

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Today is the official release day for my latest Victorian romance, Duke of a Gilded Age.  This novel took me far longer to write than I thought it would, due to the amount of research involved. The story takes place in 1890, with locations such as Brooklyn, New York City, a Transatlantic ocean liner, Liverpool, London, and a small fictitious dukedom known as Mansbury, England. In New York, my main characters visit Central Park, Madison Square Park, the newly dedicated Statue of Liberty, the Ladies’ Mile, and the Fifth Avenue Hotel. I learned a great deal I didn’t know, and occasionally felt sad that so many wonderful and historic details have been lost, particularly in regard to the ocean liners of the day. I took what I could, nevertheless, and created what I hope is a reasonable facsimile of the era. Research texts were very helpful to me, along with period newspapers and photographs. Like a eager voyeur, I studied the precious few film clips I found, as if I were a time traveler lucky enough to catch a glimpse through a magical keyhole.

Excerpt:

The next morning after breakfast, Lady Frederic returned to her room to finish her letters, Mr. Oakhurst set off for the employment agency, and Wesley hired a cab to take him and Belle through Central Park. The cab entered the park through Scholars’ Gate at Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street, and headed north. Belle gasped at the beauty of the large bodies of water, the landscaping, and the monuments. There was even a riding path around Croton reservoir.

When the cab reached the northern end of the park, the drive meandered in a looping pattern until the carriage faced south once more. Belle gasped as she spotted a castle. “Does someone live there?”

“That’s Belvedere Castle. It’s an observatory.”

“I’d like to see it up close.”

“We can walk there, if you don’t mind the exercise.”

“I adore exercise.”

“After we make a tour of the park, we’ll find a place to stop.”

A few minutes later, Belle spied a flock of black and white sheep grazing on the lawn. “Why, there are sheep in the middle of the city!”

“Yes, and that red brick complex with the peaked gables is the Sheepfold.”

“How absolutely charming!”

Belle’s hazel green eyes were sparkling, and her smile revealed even, white teeth. She’s really very pretty—when she’s not scolding me or being a prig. The pink and white dress Belle wore had puffy sleeves with small pleats, an elaborate ruffled front, and a high collar with a large bow at the back of the neck. Her curly, nutmeg‐colored hair was tucked under a white straw sailor’s hat, the brim of which was bound with a wide, pink grosgrain ribbon. The whole effect was one of dainty femininity, and Wesley found himself watching her rather than the scenery. Unfortunately, she noticed his stare.

“Is something wrong?”

“Oh…not at all.” Wesley waved to get the driver’s attention. “Drop us off at the carriage concourse at Cherry Hill, won’t you?”

ornament29I certainly hope you enjoy reading about Belle Oakhurst and Wesley Parker as much as I enjoyed writing their story. ~ S.G. Rogers

Blurb:

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

Available at Amazon HERE for $0.99. Prime members can borrow it free. Don’t forget to add Duke of a Gilded Age to your list on Goodreads HERE.

TICDFINALAlso, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Ice Captain’s Daughter for free now through Sunday, June 30th HERE. In that download is a sneak peek at Duke of a Gilded Age!

 

 

 

Duke of a Gilded Age – Perils of 1890 Transatlantic Travel

Long before the maiden voyage of the Titanic (1912), luxury steamships were crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  One such vessel was the twin screw steamer, SS City of New York (pictured above). First class accommodations were meant to evoke the interior of a luxury hotel, with such amenities as a sumptuous dining room (saloon), library, smoking room, drawing room, hot and cold running water, barber shop, walking track on the promenade deck, electric ventilation and electric lighting.  As enjoyable as ocean travel might for the monied elite aboard these luxury liners, it was not without difficulty. Deadly icebergs would frequently break off from the western coastline of Greenland and float south through shipping lanes. The thick Atlantic fog that often surrounded these huge steamers would obscure hapless fishing vessels, leading to collisions. Should a ship suffer some sort of mechanical failure, it would be at the mercy of passing vessels to render aid. Opportunistic passengers known as cardsharps might also pose a danger to wealthy gentlemen who enjoyed a high stakes game of cards or two. In addition, stormy seas often led to lengthy bouts of sea sickness. Nevertheless, the lure of a relatively quick voyage (a little over six days in 1890) between continents far outweighed the potential dangers.

Such is the setting for my upcoming release Duke of a Gilded Age: When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

Excerpt:

Wesley crossed to the far side of the ship as it skirted Brooklyn on its way to Lower Bay. The cheerful sunshine that had heralded their departure had disappeared, blocked by dark clouds rolling in. Erratic gusts of wind threatened to blow his hat over the side of the railing, so he removed it and held it in his hand. As the ship cleared Rockaway Peninsula, the ship’s bell tolled the half‐hour. Belle joined him.

“It looks like stormy weather ahead, but I overheard one of the stewards saying the tide is in our favor,” she said. “As soon as we’re on the other side of the Sandy Hook lighthouse, it will be full steam ahead.”

“That’s good news.”

“Are you terribly sad to be leaving New York?”

He glanced at Belle, whose pretty features were etched with concern.

“Not really. Since my father died, I can’t think of a happy memory…until this past week.”

“I take that as a compliment,” she replied with a smile. “You didn’t have a sweetheart in Brooklyn, did you?”

“Er…I was rather fond of Liam Kennedy’s younger sister for a while, but after he turned against me, so did she.”

“Oh, dear. Since you’re now a duke, I expect Miss Kennedy will never let her brother forget you, will she?”

Wesley laughed. “I hadn’t thought of it, but you’re quite right. She has a redhead’s temper, so it may be some time before Liam receives a kind word from her.”

“That notion should lighten your mood! Listen, I’m going to my cabin to freshen up and I’ll see you at the captain’s bon voyage reception in the saloon.”

“I’ll look forward to it.”

Wesley watched Belle walk away. A gust of wind lifted the hem of her skirt, revealing her slender ankles. He rather enjoyed the spectacle until he noticed Stephen Van Eyck watching Belle too.

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To celebrate the release of Duke of a Gilded Age on Friday, June 28th, my first historical romance The Ice Captain‘s Daughter will be FREE on Amazon HERE, from Wednesday, June 26th (12 a.m. PST) until Sunday, June 30th (11:59 p.m. PST). TICDFINALEnjoy the download, and don’t forget to tell a friend! Psst… there’s a free sample chapter of Duke in the back! To add Duke of a Gilded Age to your Goodreads list, go HERE.

Duke of a Gilded Age – Excerpt

From the Battery, the Oakhursts and the Parkers boarded one of the hourly ferries to Bedloe Island. The ferry wasn’t particularly full, so they had their pick of seats. Wesley and Belle sat together toward the prow of the vessel, watching the Statue of Liberty grow closer. Belle glanced over her shoulder toward her father and Lady Frederic, who were deep in conversation several rows back.

“Was it difficult to convince your mother to come today?” Belle asked.

“After Mrs. Neal reassured my mother she would complete her tasks well in advance, my mother couldn’t refuse.”

“Your timing was impeccable. I’d just asked my father if he would accompany me here today, but he declined.”

“Why?”

“For him, this isn’t a vacation. He works for you, Wesley, and he wanted to make sure your needs were met.” She giggled. “Fortunately, your needs have happily coincided with mine.”

“I’m very glad. This is my first visit to Bedloe Island.”

“How can that be?”

“My father had planned to take us after the Statue of Liberty was dedicated, but he died before we could go.”

“What a shame.”

Belle glanced at Wesley. The day she’d first met him he’d been fresh from a street brawl. The warrior-like expression of the recent past had fallen away to reveal the raw emotional wounds underneath. Almost of their own volition, her gloved fingers reached out. She meant only to give his hand the briefest of squeezes, but he captured her fingers in his and held them fast. Belle locked eyes with Wesley for several seconds before she remembered to breathe. With an apologetic smile, she withdrew her hand.

“Oh, yes, I know. It’s not proper,” he murmured.

Belle stared straight ahead as she willed her heart to quit racing.

ornament29Wesley wished the warmth of Belle’s hand would not fade from his fingertips quite so quickly. I shouldn’t have done that. She’s engaged, after all. And yet… had she felt nothing, wouldn’t she have pulled away more quickly? Perhaps Belle was too polite—or too concerned for her father’s continued employment—to rebuke him openly. I’ve put her in an awkward position, haven’t I? I should be more guarded and considerate in my behavior toward her.

“I’m sorry Belle, if I took advantage of your kindness just now. It won’t happen again.”

A long silence followed his words.

“Thank you, Wesley,” she said finally.

Her response was so soft that had he been less attentive he might have missed it in the din of the general conversation surrounding them. Wesley couldn’t bring himself to look at Belle’s face, for fear he would see relief in her hazel eyes.

Duke of a Gilded Age – coming Friday, June 28th!

Blurb:

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

To return to Sweet Saturday Samples, go HERE