Thursday 21 March 2013

Are you clubbable?

The club became a Georgian institution, and it grew from the other great institution, the coffee house. Originally introduced into Britain during the Restoration period, the coffee house was a place for gentlemen to enjoy coffee or tea, gossip and do business.
Something it’s easy for us to overlook is that it wasn’t safe to drink the water. Not until modern times could we pour a glass of water and drink it. Water had to be boiled or otherwise treated before people could be sure it was safe. And boiled water tastes awful. Truly nasty. Unless it’s turned into something tasty like tea, coffee or chocolate.
Before the advent of a comforting hot drink, everybody drank a form of alcohol, because the process rendered the water safe. Not because everybody was a lush! Even children drank small beer with their meals, because there wasn’t much else for them.
But the growing popularity of tea and coffee led to the institutions that spawned a thousand romance novels. The coffee houses clustered around the City of London, although most provincial towns of a reasonable size had them, too. But as Johnson often claimed, there was nowhere quite like London.
Covent Garden had coffee houses in the day time, and at night, when they were closed, the whorehouses plied their trade, together with the theaters. Close by was the magistrate’s court and prison in Bow Street. It’s not until you visit London and walk those streets do you realise how snug they actually were. The first accredited coffee house in London, Tom’s, was recently demolished to make way for an extension for Covent Garden Opera House, which is now a gargantuan enterprise. Vandalism, if you ask me.
However, there are still some sites left, if you know where to look for them. A cluster existed in the City, like Lloyds Coffee House, which became the Stock Exchange, where men met to exchange information and business deals. Every man carried a small book with him at all times, and he recorded all the deals in the book, transcribing them and giving them to his legal people later. But a man’s word was his bond, and thousands (millions in today’s money) could be exchanged in a handshake. That was why it was so important to be able to trust the person you were doing business with. So if the man did something doubtful, like marrying an unsuitable partner, it affected his credibility. And unlike France, where the nobility were forbidden to engage in commerce, many an aristocrat had substantial investments in City institutions. Even more in the merchant ships that left the Pool of London every day.
Slowly the coffee houses became places where the people gathered there specialised in one thing or another. Lloyds became an insurance house. The Cocoa-Tree was a political one, particularly for Whigs, the aristocratic party, more sympathetic to the French and to international concerns. The county, the Tory party, didn’t trust tea or coffee for a long time, claiming that small beer and ale was good enough for an Englishman, but eventually they came around, too.
Note that I keep saying “men,” for the coffeehouse was a male preserve. The pictures show exclusively men, with women serving them the drinks and taking the money at a desk at the end of the house. They had no part in the social interaction.
However women had their own equivalent – the tea-drinking in the afternoon. As the interval between breakfast and dinner lengthened, it became necessary for another ritual, and that became tea. The ladies held salons of various kinds, but these were always necessarily more exclusive, being held in their homes.
Since the literary salons were fascinating places, I’ll probably come back to them in a different entry.
However, as the eighteenth century progressed, the coffeehouse became something more exclusive, to which membership was required—the gentleman’s club. The eighteenth century gentleman was extremely clubbable, and a fashionable man might belong to several, but frequent one. White’s is the best known one these days, but there were many more, and they continue to be. I’m a member of a London club, since the institution has long been used by women as well.
However, the hustle and busyness of the London coffeehouse was the first point at which I fell in love with the eighteenth century. And I’ve never fallen out of love with it.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

A Classic so Clandestine, I Can't Tell You the Title - Guess & Win!

Okay, very soon I will be telling you all about my Clandestine Classic. I know, you're probably thinking, "out with it already!" But I can't, so let's play a game. I will give you some hints, and if you leave a comment below on what your guess is (for those of you who played the Oscars game, it is neither a head nor the ruby slippers), I will send you a pdf copy of my classic when it is released. Yay - prizes! Oh - and please leave your email address, or I will just have to use my psychic powers to let you know you won, and they are sometimes out of service. Like the internet.

First hint: It is set in the 18th Century.

Second hint: It is an MMF menage. Actually, that's not much of a hint, since there is absolutely no mention whatsoever of any type of menage - MMF or otherwise - in the original story. So, I suppose that is a hint in its own way.

Third hint: There are some BDSM elements. Hmmm. I just realized that there wasn't any of that in the original, so I suppose that doesn't help much either.

Fourth hint: I'll be more fair. It was written by an American author.

Fifth and final hint: The main hero would seem to be an unlikely stud, but in my version he has a hidden advantage that makes the ladies swoon, and the men jealous.

Ooh-la-la. So put your guessing cap on, and leave your answer in the comments below with an email address. See you next month!

(PS - there are absolutely no hints whatsoever in the picture - it's just a very famous painting and fit the theme. Plus, it looks cool. *wink*)

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Making BDSM Work When It Might Not Want To

There are some books that scream to have BDSM added to them. Some just say, yes, there are BDSM elements to this. Then there are others that don't or not as much. The Phantom of the Opera is one of those stories that could either have a lot of sex and bondage or not as much.

I've take a bit of flack on this story because readers wanted more BDSM or they wanted me to change the ending. Now, IMHO, to ramp up the BDSM element meant changing the ending. But to be a Clandestine Classic, I couldn't change the ending. Nope. Has to be the way Leroux finished it.

Talk about a quandary. I didn't change the ending. If you get a copy of the original book, the ending is the same. But I did add lots of heat and some kink.

Now in Phantom there are times when kink worked. I added it. Grin. But there were times when it could've worked, but it rode the line between being sexy and not. I stuck with what I thought was sexy and where I thought it fit.

Then there is the confines of the times. Now we have things like bondage tape, and easy open handcuffs... oh, and zippers. Back then? Nope. They had cuffs, but not as easy open. No tape, but lots of ribbon. And lots of places to hide to have a hot moment. That's what I liked about Phantom. So many alcoves for passion and little places to have an aside with hinky-kinky.

What do you think? Should the kink go in even if it doesn't fit? Or just go with the flow of the story? Let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts. :-)

Have you ever read one of the classics and wondered was happened behind those doors, curtains, trees? Yeah, us too. As you've seen, we've brought you the stories with those thrilling bits included. Here's my addition to the line, The Phantom of the Opera.

Why the Phantom? Well, I've been asked a lot to change the ending. I won't give it away, but some aren't thrilled with who gets the girl. I liked the way the book worked out and I loved the idea making the story line sizzle. I also enjoyed the challenge of sticking with Gaston Leroux's plot line. He's got a complex story going on there, but there were so many little places where a little heat went a long way! Yes, working with the time period and language of the day wasn't always easy, but it helped me to appreciate the little things, like not having to wear so many layers of undergarments! Grin. Want a taste of the Phantom? Keep reading!

Here's the blurb:
The Classics Exposed…

A chance sighting at the Opera, fated love, and three lives in turmoil.

One man pledges to own her, while another wants her heart. The Opera sets the stage for romance and intrigue. In the catacombs below the building lives a man rife with sorrow and passion. The Phantom. But he’s not content to live alone. He wants to possess the one woman who can set him free.

His Christine.

Viscount Raoul de Chagny doesn’t believe the rumours of a Ghost living below the Opera. He only has eyes for Christine, his childhood friend and first love. Together they embark on a sensual journey of discovery and fiery desire.

But she can only have one man. Will love raise her up or tear their world apart?

Teasers are so great, aren't they? I'd love to share a snippet from Phantom with you! Happy Holidays!!!

“What are you asking of me?”

“Your submission. Allow me to direct you as if I were the composer of one of your songs. Do you trust me?” Raoul smoothed a lock of her hair between his fingers. She smelt of flowers, a most intoxicating scent. Although she trembled in his arms, she met him for a kiss. Christine whimpered. Damn the blanket and the layers of fabric between them. He longed to feel her body next to his. He parted her robe and shoved the garment from her shoulders, leaving her in her nightgown. He swiped his tongue along her bottom lip and palmed her breast.

“Raoul,” she gasped, but didn’t swat him away. “I trust you.”

“Let me make you feel the magic.”

Christine stared at him a moment. “What do you want me to do?”

“Give me what I want. Can you do that?” He unbuttoned the top button on her nightgown. “Show me the depths of your soul.”

“I can.” She whipped her nightgown up over her head, exposing her body to him. Her rosy nipples peaked and the flush spread across her entire chest.

Raoul shrugged out of his nightshirt and tugged her back onto his lap. Skin to skin, mouth to mouth, he lost himself in her sweetness. His desire to conquer her took over. Christine slid her hands up his chest and twined them behind his head.

“Do you still wish to learn? This will not be what you expect.”

“I do.”

He sat back on his heels and hazarded a glance to the door to reassure himself it was locked.


“I do not wish to be interrupted.” He grabbed the chair at the small table and dragged it to the couch. “Sit.”

Christine hesitated, then moved from his lap to the edge of the bed. Raoul eased her onto her back. He crawled between her thighs. “I will pull out so I don’t leave my seed inside you, but I cannot guarantee this won’t hurt.”

She nodded, but didn’t look particularly agreeable. He braced himself on his knees and one hand. With his free hand, he stroked her cheek. “I will make you feel precious when I’m done.”

“I’m yours.”


Friday 1 March 2013

Google 'Regency'...

And see what you get...

I know this isn't a very on-topic post, but today (after my little alarm thingy reminded me of this post), I googled "regency hotties". Why you ask? Well, why not? We all like sexy men, right? And I am completely willing to cheat on my post this month and use them. ;)

Anyway, I googled "regency hotties" thinking I would get at least a handful of pretty eye-candy for you all. And...I was wrong. Waaaaay wrong. But the results were varied enough, and sometimes funny enough, that I thought I'd share anyway.

First came a historical hottie...

Then came a pirate...(okay, maybe he isn't, but don't you think he could be?!)

Next came Jennifer...

And "Luke, I'm your father..."  (and oh, yes, this really did show up)

That last one cracked me up. Which made me want to share with you. Since you've been such good souls, following along with my little game - here's a reward... an absolutely stunning shot of James McAvoy (pretty sure this isn't from 'Becoming Jane', but I think we can  move past that, yes?)...

What good regency or historical pics or actors do you just love?

Happy March 1st!