Cruising the Duoro River

By Mary Jo:

I'm well down the road to insanity as I try to finish a book by mid-October, so I'm invoking Wenchly privilege to rerun an older blog with some editing where appropriate.  What I chose is this long ago 2006 blog describing a riverboat cruise along the Douro River into DSCN0824Spain.

I first read about riverboat cruising in a magazine several years ago, and promptly decided I wanted to give it a try.  I’ve done several ocean cruises, especially in the Caribbean, but rivers in Europe sounded different and fascinating.  The boats are much smaller, holding maybe 130 or so people, and the venues are fabulous. 

Much of European civilization developed along rivers, and traveling them would be a wonderful Douro_mapway of seeing Europe without a lot of packing and unpacking.  The boats park in the center of towns and cities, and one can seen a great deal of the countryside in peace and comfort.  The quintessential riverboat cruises follow the great rivers of northern and eastern Europe: the Rhine, the Elbe, the Danube, etc. 

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Battle Babies!

TreeNicola here, talking about names. Back in July, Christina posted about names and saints’ days, and recently a previous Wench guest, Elizabeth Hawksley, wrote a fascinating piece on her own blog here about why the name Thomas fell out of popularity in 1532. It seems to me that whether we’re talking about about choosing names for characters in books or how we feel about our own names, it’s a perennially fascinating topic.

This time around, my interest was sparked by the BBC genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are, which returned to our screens in the UK last week with a new series. The first programme explored the family history of actress Jodie Whittaker. Among the family stories that emerged was one relating to her grandmother, who was called Greta Verdun Bedford. This was the moment I learned something completely new to me – that in the past, babies have been named after battles.

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A Question of Numbers!

A Question of NumbersAndrea here, and I'm excited to announce that today is Release Day for A Question of Numbers, the latest book in my Lady Arianna Regency mystery series. I've had such fun writing these characters and their adventures, so I thought I'd share a bit of backstory about why I love writing the mystery genre, as well as a bit about the inspiration behind this latest story.

I began my career as a published author (don't ask about the old manuscripts squirreled away in a desk drawer) Lawrence 2writing traditional Regency romances for NAL. I loved the era—and that's stayed with me to this day—and after glomming a number of books in the genre (including Wenches Mary Jo, Pat and Jo Beverley) I buckled up my courage and took a try at it, and to my surprise and delight . . . I got a contract. When the publishing world changed, I moved to sexy Regencies, which were fun, but I came to realize that my heart really lay in writing mysteries.

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Napoleon Loses a Hat . . and a Battle

Napoleon 4Andrea here, musing today on how I always enjoy it when a snippet of history unexpectedly comes to life when I least expect it. I was perusing the digital front page of the New York Times the other day (a rather depressing exercise of late, I must confess) when a small article caught me eye that actually make me smile. Now, I knew, of course, that this past Monday was the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. But what I didn’t realize what that at some point in the raging conflict, Napoleon lost his hat . . .

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The Truth About Dukes

200px-Coronet_of_a_British_Duke.svgNicola here, talking about dukes, as you do if you are an author of historical romance. I’ve live in Britain all my life and I’ve never met a duke. In fact they are the only rank of the peerage I haven’t met. There are currently only 24 of them in existence which in a population of 65 million must make them amongst the rarest creatures in the country on a par with the Scottish wild cat. At times during the UK's history there have been no more than two or three; at others – the mid 1700s – there were as many as forty so even at their height they were an endangered species.

That’s the reality, of course. In stories, particularly in historical romances, they pop up in London, Bath and various country towns and villages with a regularity that is rather fun. If only!

A little while ago, Mary Jo wrote a wonderful blog piece on billionaires, dukes, and hero inflation, looking at the reasons why a billionaire, or duke, or billionaire duke, is so appealing in our fiction. You can read it here. Today though, I’m talking about the fact behind the fiction, which is actually no less entertaining and contains some characters who, if they were fictional, would seem far too bizarre, eccentric and unlikely.

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