Madeira: Garden of the Atlantic

Nicola MadeiraLast week, whilst many people in England were getting excited about the first snow of winter, I was heading south to visit the wonderful island of Madeira. Madeira is a Portuguese island off the coast of North Africa and has a lovely sub-tropical climate, which meant that there were lots of colourful plants and trees in flower – and there was also a lot of rain! However, that didn’t dampen the mood as I’d wanted to visit the island for over 40 years since my grandparents first went there when I was a child. I imagine the main town, Funchal, has changed quite a bit since that time but we still found it to be an enchanting place of historical buildings and glorious botanical gardens.

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No Plethora of Pirates

PatRice_NotoriousAtherton200Last year when I was researching Notorious Atherton, I blogged here about the plethora of princesses I discovered while creating my imaginary one. Even though I know I’m basically creating historical fantasy when I write romance, I like my history grounded in reality. I prefer to draw on actual events so that there is some possibility the characters could have experienced the trauma I put them through.

When I gave much-maligned Nick Atherton his notorious history, I knew that piracy in the Caribbean was well past its peak even when Nick was in his youth. If you look at this list of pirates  you can see Jean Lafitte and his crew were the last of a dying breed. Most of the ones operating in the late 1700s and early 1800s were little better than Billy the Kid and many of them infested rivers, not the high seas.

But just because Nick’s pirate adventures didn’t make the annals of history, there is certainly plenty of evidence that they could have happened. The British Navy had its fair share of cruel commanders and inhumane conditions, as witnessed by the mutiny on the Bounty, which occurred in 1789, right about the time Nick’s crew ditched ship. There were further mutinies in the ports of England in 1797.

The British Navy was certainly still a presence in the Caribbean during the 1790’s—they conquered the French colonies there in 1793. And by 1795, impressment had practically become an imperative to keep the Navy’s ships operational, so Nick’s fate was not exactly uncommon.

That seemed sufficient grounding for Nick’s notorious adventures. How much importance do you place on backstory that never really appears on the page? Do you like knowing that the author has done her research or do you prefer to just sink into the story and let the real world go away? I will admit, there are days when I'm grateful just to be taken away on a wild ride as long as reality doesn't wake me up!

Regency Either/Or!

CoronetNicola here! I have one arm in a sling this week after
unexpectedly needing some treatment to my shoulder and as a result I can’t type
much. So for my blog today I thought I would post up a little game for everyone
called Regency Either/Or. I shamelessly borrowed this idea from Honorary Word
Wench Mia Marlowe who has a very fun version of this on her blog. I hope you enjoy
it and share your choices and your own suggestions!

Duke of Mr?

Actually these days I think that should be Prince or Mr. I
have noticed title inflation in some historical romances rather like the
millionaire to billionaire inflation in some contemporary romance books. Whilst
a Duke (or Prince) is frightfully authoritative and powerful I have a soft spot
for a Mr. On the other hand teh duke gets to wear the cute coronet above.

Debutante or courtesan?

I don’t mind a debutante heroine if she has a bit of
gumption and isn’t too “straight out of the schoolroom.” As for courtesans,
well everyone deserves to find true love.

Swords or pistols?

Which is your weapon of choice? By 1770 the sword was
considered very old-fashioned and pistols were
Duelling pistols
all the rage. But gentlemen,
remember: would it not be more mature – and less dangerous – simply to apologise? There is no dishonour in that.

Brandy or claret?

is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must
drink brandy.” Dr Johnson. Need I say more?

Signet ring or diamond cravat pin?

A signet ring, especially one bearing the arms of the hero’s
family, suggests a reassuringly ancient pedigree. Is a diamond cravat pin just
too bling?

StagecoachCurricle or stagecoach?

Who could resist the sports car of its day? But if you
do take a ride in a curricle make sure that the driver is a noted whip and not
someone who cannot handle his cattle. Let’s not dismiss the stage out of hand,
though. You can meet very interesting people on public transport.

Highwayman, smuggler of pirate?

Ok, I know it's cheating to have three but when it comes to heroes who like to walk on the wrong side of the law, how do you choose?

Now it's your turn. Answer as many as you like or make up your own!