Tropes I Hate to Love: The Makeover Story

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By Tamara Morgan, author of BECAUSE I CAN

We all have those romance tropes that fall into our OMG-I-love-it or hate-hate-burn-it-with-fire categories. Secret babies. Enemies to lovers. Brother’s best friend. Marriage of convenience. Second chance love. Everyone has their own favorite, which is part of what makes this genre so much fun.

One of my personal hot-button tropes is the ugly duckling story. I want to love this trope. I try very hard to love this trope. There’s something about a woman (or man) transforming themselves inside and out that makes for a fulfilling romance. After all, that’s kind of what this genre is all about—changing ourselves for the better for that one person we love above all else.

Of course, any time we’re talking about physical beauty, things get tricky. While there’s nothing wrong about wanting to be attractive for the person we love, we also don’t want to say that love is only for the attractive—especially if we’re talking about traditional standards of beauty.

That’s where the ugly duckling trope gets complicated. One movie example I adore is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, wherein the heroine controls every aspect of her transformation and does it as a part of a complete life overhaul. However, my enjoyment of My Fair Lady is almost always eclipsed by my strong urge to throw Henry Higgins out a window.

Perhaps that’s why I was so surprised when Because I Can became a makeover story (unfortunately, my books often do this, taking turns against my will or advice). It’s such a difficult trope to handle well, and I wasn’t sure this glamorous world of the Montgomerys was the best place to attempt it.

But I tried anyway. In the book, the family handywoman falls for the wealthy oldest Montgomery son. Georgia isn’t traditionally attractive, she doesn’t just slap on a fancy dress and feel like a new woman, and her transformation isn’t so much in her physical appearance as it her acceptance of it. In other words, she’s the ugly duckling who never quite reaches swan status, choosing instead to channel her energies into being the best damn duck she can be.

I like the idea that we can all become pretty amazing ducks in the end, which is why this particular makeover story works for me. I’m also always on the lookout for other great books and movies in this trope, so if you have recommendations, send them my way!

Because I Can (Montgomery Manor #3)

CARINA_1014_-9781426898952_BecauseICanJohn “Monty” Montgomery is a workaholic. The oldest of the Montgomery children, he’s been working by his father’s side building the family hotel chain almost his entire life. His commitment to the business leaves no time for romance. But that’s about to change.

Georgia Lennox has been fantasizing about Monty ever since she started her gig as handywoman at Montgomery Manor. She figures Monty is way out of her league, so she hasn’t dared to act on her feelings — until he offers to help fill a volunteer shortage on her latest project, building houses for families in need.

Sparks fly as they spend time together, first on the job site, then off. But Georgia’s not your typical frilly and feminine society girl. Hoping to find a way to fit in with the Montgomerys, she agrees to be made over by Monty’s sister for an event. But if she lets her rough edges be smoothed away, will she be letting go of the very thing that attracted Monty in the first place?

Available from Carina Press.

Tamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.

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The Monster in the Closet

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By Dana Marie Bell, author of OF SHADOWS AND ASH



Author: Dana Marie Bell
Miniseries: Maggie’s Grove
eISBN: 9781426899133

Book three of Maggie’s Grove

Overprotective dryad Ashton Ward is pissed off. His mate Selena has been tortured by humans who hunt supernaturals, and she’s flat-out refusing to let him near her as she heals. Her magic is so compromised that just being near her puts him in danger, but he’s sure he can help ease her pain if she’ll just let him.

To keep Ash safe, witch doctor Selena Giannone wants to handle the fallout from her nightmare alone. But she might be dealing with more than the agonizing loss of her powers–something’s haunting her house so badly the land itself is afraid. A demon so powerful nothing in Maggie’s grove can tame it alone.

Terrified, exhausted and out of options, Selena turns to Ash for help. The enemy needs two things to feed: Selena’s powers, yes, but also it needs her fear. And if there’s a magic that can save her, it lies with Ash–with his touch, and with their bond.

We’ve always had fears of what’s hidden in the darkness. The creak of a floorboard is a footstep we can’t ignore. A whisper of sound becomes a sigh in the night. The faintest breeze caresses our cheeks, and we sense intent behind that touch.

But what if that touch was real? What if we open our closet and a monster really does reach out and drag us in? A monster you can’t fight, can’t strike because he’s incorporeal, made of nothing more than shadows and fear. And it wants you. Or rather, in Of Shadows and Ash, the third Maggie’s Grove novel, it wants Selena, the town’s beloved witch doctor.

Worse, what would you do if it was after a loved one? Would you sit back if asked and allow them to deal with it on their own, or would you insist on helping? If it managed somehow to get a foothold inside your love one, would you be willing to do whatever it takes to remove it? This is the dilemma that faces Ashton Ward, Selena’s dryad mate.

Researching ghosts, demons and the ways societies developed to deal with them was fascinating. From banishment to containment to forcing the spirits to go around the home, wards of all types can be found throughout the world. Priests and shamans can cleanse the area, and mediums can try and speak to these entities with the intent to find out why it lingers and what would appease it. Even now, magic is considered a strong tool when dealing with the supernatural. The rituals used in the book are based on my research, from the gems, to the gestures. I wanted to make sure each ritual was done in a way that would make sense to those who work magic in the modern world, and I hope I managed to achieve that.



You can learn more about Dana on her websiteblogFacebook and Twitter.


Co-Writing: It’s Not That Scary…We Promise

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By Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels, Authors of IN THE RAW

One of the questions we always get is “How on earth do you write novels together? Writing is such a personal thing – Isn’t it hard to write with another person?”

Eileen:  Writing is often a solitary activity. As a writer, you get lost in your words, scenes and characters, interacting with them far more often than you do with actual real life people. As magical as it is to create something from nothing, writing can also be a terribly lonely profession. For us, co-writing solves that problem. Even when we work on solo pieces, we’re often online together, chatting and helping each other work through the plots of our WIPs. When we do write together, we’re often times each drawn to one particular character who we feel a connection with. Each of us will “adopt” that character and take over most of the writing for scenes from that character’s POV. However, even though we usually alternate working on the WIP based on which character drives the scene, we also help each other out if the scene is a particularly hard one.

Nikka:  An example of this came up while we were writing In The Raw. The scene followed a painful scene between Jamie and his father, which resulted in a fight between Ethan and Jamie. Even though the scene was from Ethan’s POV, one that I usually write, I kept getting writer’s block every time I tried to work on the scene. We knew we had to make Ethan’s remarks and attitude cruel to Jamie, and it killed me to write it. Eileen took over for a few days, cranked out some hateful dialogue, and we moved past it. Could we have still written a similar scene solo? Of course. But having a partner to help write it, to help move past it and get the words out, was priceless.

Eileen:  The same applies to scenes that seem effortless for Nikka to write. I love cooking and watching cooking shows, but the art of translating the techniques and nuances to the page is hard for me. On the other hand, Nikka takes a scene, blocks it out in her head and runs with it. The result is amazing. So usually, regardless of whose POV the scene is from, we never try to bully our way through a scene. We each have strengths in our writing and together, we just work.

Co-writing isn’t for everyone, though. We’re both profoundly grateful we found each other because for us, co-writing is natural and seamless. It’s something we try not to take for granted because we have too many WIPs that we want to write…together.

In the Raw by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

CARINA_1014_9781426899119_InTheRawIf you can’t take the heat…

James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.

Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.

Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.

Read an excerpt of In the Raw HERE.

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play



Eileen Griffin lives in the southwest, but loves to travel and has spent many summers crossing Europe with nothing but a backpack on her back. She enjoys TexMex, lives for good wine, and has a certain penchant for purple unicorns. She loves reading all genres of books, but her current obsession is writing M/M romance.

Website and Blog | Twitter | Facebook Author Page | Goodreads


Nikka Michaels lives in the Pacific Northwest where she spends her time cooking up romantic tales to satisfy her craving for HEAs with heat. A voracious reader, novice knitter and music lover she’s been known to multitask without breaking a sweat. She loves to read and write M/M romance but believes everyone deserves a love story.

Website | Twitter | Facebook Author Page | Goodreads

Stay tuned for the continuation of Jamie and Ethan’s story: In the Fire coming from Carina Press November 3.

Performance Review on My Second Job

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By Matt Sheehan, author of HELMUT GOES ABROAD

I found writing my second book in my Helmut series – and only my second written anything since college English 1B – mostly easier that writing the first book. Writing is my second job and I get most of my work done on the bus or at night after the kiddo goes to bed. (Can you really call it a job if it doesn’t actually generate income. But that’s beside the point.) I’ve found that where I used to labor over a few paragraphs some nights, I can now consistently crank out a page or two at one sitting. That’s probably why HELMUT GOES ABROAD a good 15k words longer than it’s predecessor.

The hard part was keeping the tone and characters the same. When I turned in my unedited copy of book two to my editor Jeff, I thought I had hit a home run. After all, my mom said it was even better than my first book. When you have an objective and unbiased opinion like that, what more do you need. Well Jeff didn’t agree. I’m pretty sure I had more red – yes they use red, just like in high school – on this manuscript than I did on my first.

The spelling and grammar errors didn’t surprise me. That’s why I got C’s in high school English. (That and because my Catholic School teachers didn’t have a sense of humor.  But once again I’m getting off topic.) What did surprise me were the places where Jeff felt Helmut wasn’t being Helmut. Of course he was right. He’s always right. I found that out during the last editing process. But how could the character that I patterned after my best friend not be Helmut enough?

Part of the problem is I’ve been friends with Helmut’s real life counterpart since we were eight year old kids playing pranks on the neighbors. (Doorbell-ditching is best with houses that have double-doors. For whatever reason those doors tend to have the closed-loop style handle on both doors. A thick stick for the doors and a bush to hide behind is all you need for great fun – until they come out their garage door that is.) I had to separate the source material from my new creation. Helmut was now his own person and had to be treated as such. I was still able sneak in old stories from my childhood – I just made them more consistent with where Helmut is in life. I hope you enjoy HELMUT GOES ABROAD.


CARINA_1014_9781426899102_HelmutGoesAbroadLife is pretty good for me, Helmut Haase, dashing detective and ladies’ man extraordinaire. I’m the industrious and charming half of the Fog City Detective Agency. My partner, Shamus O’Sheagan, is the most gifted and lazy Druid this side of the pond, but even he’s settled down with an Amazonian police officer. Together we managed to save the world once already, but our next case is hitting closer to home.

It all started when an old friend came to our door with a wild story about angel bones and necromancers. The bones belong to Azazel, former hero of the dreaded Cretan Empire, and the necromancers want to bring him back to life. The last thing anyone wants is Azazel to return and start another angelic war.

When Shamus locates our quarry in the Mediterranean, it’s bye-bye Wudong, hello luxury voyage to Capri, with a girl in every port and downtime to work on my fighting skills. Too bad such pleasures won’t last. Not with a coven of necromancers ready to fight us to the death over those angel bones and the fate of the world…

Read about Helmut and Shamus’s previous adventure in Helmut Saves the Worldavailable now.

What We Want: Dark, Contemporary Romance

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At Carina Press, we’re always looking to acquire contemporary romance but this month we dare you to step over the line into darker territory…

We want searing stories and risky editorial; books with high emotional tension and lots of dramatic conflict. We want sexy or erotic manuscripts with troubled characters and mysterious backstories. More specifically, if you’re writing any of the following, we’d like to see it:

  • Dark, erotic and/or psychological thrillers
  • Stories of adultery and betrayal
  • Capture fantasies and encounters of questionable consent
  • Gritty, graphic and explicit stories about organized crime and hit men
  • Mercenaries on a mission
  • Conflicts involving non-traditional h/h pairings
  • Anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Real, unredeemable bad boys and bad girls
  • Heavily atmospheric, gothic-inspired sexy contemporary romance
  • Super sexy (but not necessarily erotic) contemporary romance with sexually charged dialogue, off-the-charts sexual tension and/or a dirty-talking hero/heroine

HEAs not required, but please appease us—and your readers—with a HFN (Happily for Now).

Please note that submissions featuring the following will not be considered:

  • Rape for titillation
  • Bestiality
  • Incest
  • Characters under the age of 18 engaging in sex or illegal activity



Where Will You Find Danger?

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By Sheryl Nantus, author of IN THE VOID

Out on the edge justice is hard to come by. And if you look too hard you might just find yourself adrift in an escape pod, hoping someone rescues you before you run out of air…

Danger is everywhere when you’re In the Void!CARINA_1014_9781426899096_InTheVoid

Here Catherine Rogers discovers she’s been rescued by the last people she ever wanted to meet…


“What sort of ship is this?” She couldn’t help sighing as he spread the white ointment over the burned areas. “Touring? An acting troupe?” She could see him on the stage doing a soliloquy, maybe Shakespeare. The crew had, in the few moments she’d seen them, seemed to fit the image.

He looked up at her, his blue eyes twinkling. “A Mercy ship.”

Her breath caught in her throat. “A what?”

“My name is Sean, Sean Harrison. And this is, as we said before, the Bonnie Belle. A Mercy ship. We caught your emergency call and responded since there was no one else around.”

“A—” She couldn’t bring herself to say the words.

“A brothel. Whorehouse. Ship of ill repute.” He applied a thick dollop on her leg, concentrating below her knee. “It’s nothing we haven’t heard before. And a lot worse.”

“A Mercy ship.” She spat the words back at him. “Of all the—”

She couldn’t finish the sentence. Fate had it in for her, that much was certain.

A damned Mercy ship.


Catherine Rodgers doesn’t like Mercy spaceships, or the courtesans who work on them–not after her husband left her for a Mercy woman. But after her luxurious transport ship gets blown up to prevent her from cracking the lid off a corporate scam that’s left hundreds dead and a few people very rich, the only vessel around to save her is the Bonnie Belle.

Sean Harrison has worked as one of the Belle’s courtesans for years, bringing happiness to countless women along the space lanes. When he’s asked to look after Catherine while the Belle brings her to safety, it should be just another job. Somehow it’s anything but.

Sean is captivated by Catherine’s sense of justice and responsibility. And Catherine finds a softer, more emotionally intelligent man in Sean than she expected. Drawn together in darkness under the threat of death, they find the beginning of something lasting. But with pirates after the Belle and a price on Catherine’s head, that beginning might be all they get.


Name me your favorite television show based in the future! Is it Battlestar Galactica or Firefly or Star Trek… which future do you like the best?

Drop by AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle PlayiBooksKobo and Carina Press to board the Bonnie Belle!

Also on Goodreads!

Sheryl Nantus grew up in Toronto, Canada. In 2013 she won a Third-Place Prism Award from the FF&P chapter of RWA for her book, Blood of the Pride.

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On the Run

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By Rosie Claverton, author of Code Runner

I have an overactive imagination when it comes to potential disasters. I view most of my daily activities in terms of survivability and, once you reckon that walking down the street and skydiving are equally anxiety-provoking, life gets a lot calmer. I like to make elaborate plans in case I end up in a hostage situation, lost in the woods at night, or framed for murder.

I think about my exit strategy if I get into hot water. I plan what I would pack, what disguise I would use, and what route I would take out of the city. Writing a hacker has also taught me that I need to dump all my electronics—not even a pocket calculator would make it onto my grab-and-go list. I consider how I would cryptically communicate with my loved ones (latest football scores on a postcard) and where I could stay for only a few pounds and fewer questions.

Would I try to go it alone? Is it easier to get lost in the hubbub of a city or find a remote caravan park and hole up for the foreseeable future? Would I gravitate to somewhere I know well, like my hometown or my beloved Cardiff, or would the bad guys think to follow me there? Would I try to skip the country, catch a ferry into Ireland or France?

Most of all, I think about who I could trust. Who would protect me? Would the police think to search that person’s house? Where would they hide me? Would they give me away?

In Code Runner, my loveable ex-con Jason doesn’t have the luxury of planning. First, he’s framed for murder. Then, he’s busted out of his prison transport by someone trying to kill him, leaving more bodies in his wake. Wounded and alone, he is thrust out into the Welsh countryside, with nothing but an old suit and the ever-present rain.

What can he do? Where can he run? Who can he turn to?

Enter Amy Lane. She may be a demanding employer, but she goes above and beyond the role of “understanding boss”. Jason knows Amy will help him, knows she’s the only one who can prove his innocence, and he makes a beeline for her. (It helps that she planted a tracking device on him. She’s a little overprotective like that.) Trouble is, there’s only so much help she can give him, confined to her flat by her agoraphobia. And all the tech in the world is no help if the phone signal is dodgy out in those woods…

Who would you trust with your life? Where would you run to? What’s in your essential grab-and-go bag? Except books, of course!

Code Runner is Book Two in The Amy Lane Mysteries, sequel to Rosie’s debut novel Binary Witness.


 Ex-con Jason Carr has faced down the toughest thugs in Cardiff, but being assistant to a brilliant, eccentric hacker who hasn’t been outdoors in ten years has its own challenges. Still, he and Amy Lane can solve cases even the cops can’t crack. And when a corpse washes up on a beach, Jason can’t resist chasing the clues—or defying Amy by infiltrating the very gangs he once escaped. 

Amy is distraught when Jason’s pursuit gets him framed for murder. He’s thrown back in prison where he’s vulnerable to people who want him dead. He needs Amy to prove his innocence. Fast.

But Amy hasn’t been honest with him—her panic attacks aren’t getting better. And now, with everything that makes her feel safe ripped away, she must stand alone, using her technological skills to expose a baffling conspiracy and a new kind of online crime. Can she clear Jason’s name before danger closes in?




Watch the Code Runner book trailer!

Order Code Runner at all good ebook stores:

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

Read an excerpt | Add to Goodreads

About Rosie

Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study medicine and adopted Wales as her home. Her short film “Dragon Chasers” aired on BBC Wales in Autumn 2012. Currently exiled to London, she lives with her journalist husband and their pet hedgehog. You can find Rosie at Swords and Lattes and @rosieclaverton on Twitter.

Carina Press Paranormal Romance sale!

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October is full of tricks, treats and spookiness, so we’ve got 10 spine-chilling, creeptastic paranormal titles for just 99¢ each until October 27! Whether you’re into ghosts, zombies, graveyards, or monsters, we’ve got a great read for you that’s less than a buck away. How long will you need to read them all?



(paranormal romance, urban fantasy)




DANCING WITH DRAGONS by Lorenda Christensen

(dragons, paranormal romance)



ALL FOR YOU by Dana Marie Bell

(angels & demons, paranormal romance)





(new adult, paranormal romance)

Quicksilver Dreams



REAPER’S TOUCH by Eleri Stone

(dystopian, fantasy, paranormal romance)





(angels & demons, erotic romance, paranormal romance)




A REASON TO BELIEVE by Diana Copland

(male/male, mystery, paranormal romance)





(paranormal romance, urban fantasy)




BITE ME by PJ Schnyder

(paranormal romance, shifters)

Fit muscular man exercising with dumbbell



NOBODY’S ANGEL by Stacy Gail

(angels & demons, paranormal romance)



You Have to Pry My Fingers Loose

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By Julie Anne Lindsey, author of MURDER IN REAL TIME

Everyone I’ve ever let go has claw marks on them. Know anyone like that? If you didn’t before, you do now. I’m a hold on for dear life and love them to death kind of girl. I have been since the day I bawled my eyes out at preschool graduation. Even before then, probably. Hey, I was young, but I knew I’d never see most of those kids again and I loved them. I hate to think of how I’ll respond when my children begin leaving for college. It’s hard enough seeing them climb onto the bus every morning. I admit it. I’m a mess. If we’re in line too long together at an amusement park, I’ll probably ask for your email before I get on the ride. It’s tough for me to let you go.

Like most personality traits, I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. I’ve stayed in some relationships longer than I should have, but I’ve also stuck it out long enough to see others thrive. Discernment is hard, especially when every fiber of my soul screams, “Keep them! Love them! Feed them!” (I will love you with food, but that’s another post all together).

Today, I’m blogging for therapy and dealing with my most bittersweet book moment yet. My September release happens to be the series conclusion and I’m a little frantic. I’m letting go of characters I love. Of my friends. I’ve spent as much time talking with this cast of characters as I have with tangible people in my life this year. Strange? Maybe, but true anyway. Saying goodbye to them has left me sad and hungry. I’m thrilled they get to meet new people, but I hate to think I’ll never accidentally blow up another car, office or boat house with them again. No more sundaes from the Tasty Cream or Mai Tais with friends on a deck overlooking the harbor. It kills me inside.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Authors kill me all the time. Does that happen to you? The fact I’m doing this to myself is new territory, but the feeling’s the same. If I could literally die from the loss of fictional characters, I’d be dusty bones by now. I still mourn the loss of characters I haven’t read since grade school. More recently, I’ve plotted letters, in the shower, for authors who ended series I wasn’t ready to let go. I need them.

Is it just me? Are other people so attached to book friends? Is it insane that I want one more of my favorites? Is there a series or character you’ve never let go?

I’d love to hear!

Murder in Real Time

CARINA_0914_9781426899065_MurderInRealTimeWith the chaos of summer tourists and fall birders out of town, counselor Patience Price is looking forward to the quiet life she remembers. She longs for some peace. And an apple fritter. But the calm is cut short when a reality show sets up camp to film a special about ghosts on her little island. Now fans, reporters and crew have flocked to sleepy Chincoteague. Who knew ghost hunters had an entourage?

When two cast members are killed in a room at the local B&B—a room usually occupied by Patience’s FBI agent boyfriend, Sebastian—she finds herself on the case. Sebastian doesn’t want Patience ruffling any feathers but, as always, she can’t help herself.

Patience promises to let Sebastian handle the investigation—he is FBI, after all—but after a drive-by shooting, her wicked curiosity gets the best of her. And with the TV show forging ahead with filming, the list of suspects (and the line of food trucks) only grows. But has the shooter already flown the coop? And how do you find a killer when you don’t know who the target is?

Grab a copy from Carina Press!

About Julie:

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

Murder in Real Time is the conclusion to The Patience Price Mysteries series, from Carina Press.

Learn About Julie at: | Find Me on Facebook! | Tweet Me!!Read with me on Goodreads | Pin with me on Pinterest

Notes from the Queen’s Closet

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By Holly West, author of Mistress of Lies

Have you ever wondered how a 17th century housewife might’ve cured a cough or kept the plague at bay? What recipe she used to make biscuits or what concoctions she used to keep her skin clear? If so, Hannah Woolley, author of The Queen-Like Closet(originally published in1670), has you covered!

Hannah Woolley (about 1622 – 1675) was the Martha Stewart of the 17th century. She wrote books about household management that included recipe and menu plans, deportment instruction, remedies for common illnesses, beauty tips, and even product recommendations. I like to think that Isabel Wilde, the heroine in my Mistress of Fortune series, might’ve had copies of Woolley’s tomes on her own bookshelf.

Though surprisingly little is known about Woolley, she was nevertheless remarkable for her time. She learned remedies and recipes, as well as medical skills, while working as a servant for an “unnamed woman” in her youth. Later, she served as the mistress of Newport Grammar School in Essex, where she put these skills to good use. After her husband died in 1661, she turned to writing. By this time, she’d earned a good reputation as a physician and used her books as a way to market herself.

To the modern reader, her remedies might seem ill advised. Take, for example, her instructions for clearing the skin of freckles (I’ve “translated” the text for readability):

For two weeks, take the blood of a chicken or other beast and wipe your face all over with it when you go to bed. Wash it off the next day with white wine and white sugar candy. Sometimes, hold your face over the smoke of brimstone and shut your eyes. If you add lemon juice to the wine, it will be better.

Her chicken pie recipe is a bit more palatable:

Make your dough with cold cream, flour, butter and egg yolk. Roll it very thin, and lay it in your baking-pan, then lay butter in the bottom. Lay in your chickens, cut in quarters, with some whole mace, sliced nutmeg, some marrow, hard lettuce, eryngo root, citron pill, and a few pitted, sliced dates. Cover it with butter then close up your pie and bake it. Cut it open, and put in some wine, butter, and sugar with the yolks of two or three eggs well beaten together over the fire, till it be thick, so serve it to the table, and garnish your dish with some pretty decorations made with dough.

And her directions for “stench under the arm” is reasonable, if impractical:

Pluck away the hairs of the armhole and wash them well with white wine and rosewater that you’ve boiled with cassia lignum.

White wine, you’ll note, is a common ingredient in Woolley’s remedies. That chicken pie recipe doesn’t sound half bad—I’m tempted to try it. What about you?

Holly West is a crime fiction writer based in Los Angeles. She’s the author of the Mistress of Fortune series, set in late 17th London and featuring amateur sleuth Isabel Wilde, a mistress to King Charles II who secretly makes her living as a fortuneteller.

Connect with Holly: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

CARINA_0914_-9781426899058_MistressOfLiesAbout Mistress of Lies:

Isabel, Lady Wilde, mistress of King Charles II, has made a good living disguised as fortune teller Mistress Ruby, counseling London’s elite. But after the murder of one of her customers, business has taken a downturn, and Isabel is on the verge of accepting the king’s offer to move into the palace.

Isabel’s plans are interrupted when a beggar girl named Susanna shows up at her home, claiming to be her niece. Isabel always believed that her older brother, Adam, died alone during the plague. When Susanna reveals that Adam was actually murdered, Isabel is compelled to take up an impossible task: discover the truth about her brother’s death, twelve years after it happened.

Isabel’s investigation leads her through the gamut of London society, from bear-baiting matches and brothels to the realm of wealthy bankers. But as she uncovers her brother’s dark secrets, Isabel begins to wonder whether the past is better left buried—especially when uncovering the truth could lead to her own funeral.