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Friday, June 30, 2017

Treasure Houses of England: Harewood

Harewood House in Yorkshire

© Cheryl Bolen


The history of Harewood goes back to ancient times, and structures date from the 12th (Harwood Castle) and 14th centuries (Gawthorpe Hall). Remnants of the castle remain on the estate, and excavation work is now being done on Gawthorpe Hall which was demolished in the 1770s when construction on Harewood House was completed.

In 1739 the Harewood and Gawthorpe estates were purchased by Henry Lascelles, who had made a large fortune in the West Indies sugar trade.  Following his death in1753, his son Edwin took possession of Harewood.  Construction on Harewood House began 1759 by a who’s who of 18th century builders and designers: builder John Carr, interior designer and architect Robert Adam, landscape architect Capability Brown, and furniture maker Thomas Chippendale.  Edwin Lascelles supervised the construction himself. The house became habitable in 1771 although work continued throughout the 1770s.

When Edwin Lascelles died in 1795, the estate went to his cousin who was made Earl of Harewood, and the house has remained in the family ever since. In 1843 the third Earl employed Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament. Barry was asked to heighten  the wings of the house, to alter the front and rear facades, and to create a new formal garden on the south side of the building.  He also remodeled  a number of rooms.  Since then, the basic structure of the house has remained intact.

The 6th Earl was married to Princess Mary, Princess Royal, daughter of George V and the aunt of Queen Elizabeth. Princess Mary lived at Harewood for 35 years and died there in 1965.

Today the house is still the family seat of the Lascelles family. David Lascelles is the 8th Earl. The house and grounds have been transferred into a trust ownership structure under the management of the Harewood House Trust. Harewood House is listed as one of the 10 Treasure Houses of England.


Built by John Carr of York, furnished by master furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale, with interiors by the celebrated Robert Adam, in the setting of one of Capability Brown's finest landscape, it is not surprising that Harewood House is one of the 10 great Treasure Houses of England.

The exterior of the house is a product of Carr and Barry, with the latter having the final say. The house consists of a central block with adjoining wings which are connected to the main house with one-story links.  The front entrance is dominated by a pediment and six Corinthian columns.  The south front features Italianate terraces designed by Barry. 
Harewood's State Bed

The interior of the house is pure Robert Adam:  soaring, beautifully painted ceilings; elaborate plasterwork; ornate fireplaces; and striking mixed color schemes. Although he had to work with fixed room sizes, Harewood House is considered one of Adam’s greatest accomplishments.  Chippendale also had a great influence on the design of the house which still contains an impressive collection of his furniture.  In fact, Harewood House was the largest commission of Chippendale’s career (10 years and  £10,000).

Of special interest is the state bed in the state bedroom.  A popular fashion of the 18th century was to have a state bedroom suite reserved for visiting royalty or heads of state.  In the 19th century Barry did away with the state suite and converted the bedroom into a sitting room (later used by Princess Mary as her sitting room).  After Barry’s alteration, Chippendale’s state bed was put in storage for 150 years!  In 1999 £200,000 was finally raised to restore the bed and the state bedroom, which is now a highlight of the tour.

Although all the state rooms are impressive, especially noteworthy is the gallery which includes paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini and El Greco as well as family portraits by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney, Hoppner and Lawrence. Another interesting feature is that Harewood House has three libraries (the main library, the old library, and the Spanish library) with more than 11,000 books.  Also of special interest is the china room which contains an important collection of Sèvres porcelain bought in the early 19th century and a 1779 Bleu de Roi tea service that belonged to Queen Marie-Antoinette.


The grounds are a joint product of Brown’s “natural” setting and Barry’s formal garden.  The most obvious manifestation of Brown’s “natural” design is the man-made lake which can be viewed from Barry’s terraces. Barry’s most spectacular contribution to the grounds are the intricate geometric flowerbeds that run the entire width of the south front.

There is a tea-room with seating on Barry’s terrace that overlooks the formal garden and Brown’s landscape.--Cheryl Bolen's newest release is Miss Hastings' Excellent London Adventure. Here's a picture of Cheryl and Dr. Bolen having afternoon tea on the Harewood terrace. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Insanity of the Aged in the Regency Period

By Guest Blogger Bliss Bennet 

When I was in the planning stages of my latest novel, I decided to have one of my secondary characters, the father of one of my protagonists, be afflicted by early onset Alzheimer’s disease. But was Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in its early onset version, known during the Regency period? A dip into the history of medicine was clearly in order.

Alzheimer’s disease as we currently understand it—a neurodegenerative disease that leads to dementia—was not described until the early twentieth century. But cognitive decline in the elderly had been recognized as an affliction far earlier. One of the earliest references to such failing in old age can be found in the works of the ancient Greek physician Pythagoras, who lived during the 7th century B. C. Pythagoras divided a human life into five distinct stages, the last two (63 to 80, and 81 and older) of which he named the “senium,” or what we would now call old age. During the final stage of life (an age to which only a very few of ancient peoples survived) Pythagoras noted, “the system returns to the imbecility of the first epoch of the infancy.”

Our word “senile,” which originally only meant “belonging to, suited for, or incident to old age,” stems from the Greek term “senium.” The first medical man to use the term “senile” in reference to the cognitive decline of the aged was the Scottish pathologist William Cullen, who in 1776, proposed classifying all diseases into four groups, one of which he called “Neuroses,” or nervous diseases. One such neurosis, Cullen proposed, is “Amentia senilis,” or decay of perception and memory in old age.

The word “senile” defined in this more narrow way, though, did not come into common usage until the middle of the nineteenth century. But even if people did not have an exact medical term during the Regency period to describe mental decline in the elderly, such decline was clearly recognized by both the medical community and the public at large.

In order to understand how my protagonist would react to her father’s sudden mental decline, I also wanted to know how were people afflicted by senile dementia might be treated during the Regency period. I learned that before the nineteenth century, people judged mentally insane were typically incarcerated in prisons, not hospitals, and were subject to what today we would deem horrific treatment—shackled, bled, purged, blistered, beaten. In his 1806 book Treatise on Insanity, French physician Philippe Pinel was the first to take issue with such practices, arguing that madness was not a crime, but a disease, and those suffering from it should not be imprisoned or treated with violence. Such arguments proved controversial, both to governments and to the public at large; many thought Pinel himself insane for making such claims, and argued that he should be imprisoned, along with other madmen. But over the course of the nineteenth century, Pinel’s humanitarian reforms gradually became more widely accepted.

 Pilippe Pinel at the Salpêtrière by Tony Robert-Fleury (1876) 
Pinel orders the removal of chains from patients at the
Parish Asylum for insane women. Credit: Wikipedia
My story, set in 1822, fell right in the midst of this major cultural shift in the treatment of the mentally ill. Some people might believe that a madman should be incarcerated, treated like a criminal.  Others might believe that his fall into mental illness was a punishment for sin. Still others might take a more kindly view, and suggest asking for medical advice. But not much was known, medically, about the causes of mental decline, and little could be done medically to curtail or prevent it.

If you were living during the Regency, and your own father suddenly began to show signs of mental decline, how would you feel? Afraid that someone would want to put your father in an institution, or even a prison? Resentful that someone might judge your father a sinner, because he had been afflicted with insanity of the aged? Would you try to hide the signs of your father’s decline, even take on some of his responsibilities to keep his growing weakness hidden from those who might judge him? Even from his employer, the aristocratic owner of a landed estate?

And thus the kernel of my story, A Lady without a Lord, was born . . .

A Lady without a Lord
Book #3 in The Penningtons series

A viscount convinced he’s a failure

For years, Theodosius Pennington has tried to forget his myriad shortcomings by indulging in wine, women, and witty bonhomie. But now that he’s inherited the title of Viscount Saybrook, it’s time to stop ignoring his responsibilities. Finding the perfect husband for his headstrong younger sister seems a good first step. Until, that is, his sister’s dowry goes missing . . .

A lady determined to succeed

Harriot Atherton has a secret: it is she, not her steward father, who maintains the Saybrook account books. But Harry’s precarious balancing act begins to totter when the irresponsible new viscount unexpectedly returns to Lincolnshire, the painfully awkward boy of her childhood now a charming yet vulnerable man. Unfortunately, Theo is also claiming financial malfeasance. Can her father’s wandering wits be responsible for the lost funds? Or is she?

As unlikely attraction flairs between dutiful Harry and playful Theo, each learns there is far more to the other than devoted daughter and happy-go-lucky lord. But if Harry succeeds at protecting her father, discovering the missing money, and keeping all her secrets, will she be in danger of failing at something equally important—finding love?



Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Her Regency-set series The Penningtons has been praised by the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Reviews as “a series well worth following”; its books have been described by USA Today as “savvy, sensual, and engrossing”; by Heroes and Heartbreakers as “captivating,” and by The Reading Wench as having “everything you want in a great historical romance.”  The latest book in the series is A Lady without a Lord.

Bliss’s web site:
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Bliss’s twitter: @BlissBennet

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pirate Language in the Georgian Underworld by Katherine Bone!

Writing historical romance is a gratifying experience that can oftentimes be difficult too. An author makes choices that help modern readers understand the way people spoke in historical times, but must also season the story with historical words that transport readers to that era. Which words to use and when to use them? Well… that’s a talent every writer must master. Fortunately, several books are available to help authors achieve storyline Zen.

My go-to book for pirate jargon has always been THE PIRATE PRIMER by George Choundas. A fascinating book! A dash of ‘You’re wasting words’ and a smidgeon of ‘What maggot’s burrowing under your periwig?’ goes a long way. (Pirate!)

Most Regency authors tackle stories of the upper crust. Who doesn’t love daring and dashing dukes, marquises, or earls who champion the day? Even historical aristocrats spoke in gentleman’s code. Several of my favorites include ‘Banbury stories’ (falsehoods), ‘befogged’ (confused), ‘dicked in the nob’ (crazy), and ‘land a facer’ (punch in the face).

Word substitutes like these aren’t as difficult for the average reader to understand. But what happens when characters hail from the seedier side of society?

Enter the book CANT, A Gentleman’s Guide, The Language of Rogues in Georgian London. Love this introduction to the book!

“Planning to go to Georgian London? You’ve collected some period money, got yourself kitted out with the appropriate clothes and had your inoculations. If not, go and do it right now.”

In CANT, the language of the London Underworld, readers are taken to places where the poor, thieves, rogues, mayhap pirates and murderers roamed. If one couldn’t speak the speak, one might ‘Catch a Cold’ (get into trouble). Think Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, though it takes place 70 miles north of London in 1837, readers can relate to the characters’ accents and seedier environment.

Everyday words used in shabbier districts, not far from where aristocrats dwelt, are definitely contrary to the modern ear, confusing, strange, and oftentimes amusing. Used sparingly modern readers relate to the characters, setting, and plot.

Here are a few that my pirates would enjoy:

Rum Prancer Do you picture a dancing pirate on the deck with rum in hand? Get ready for this. Rum Prancer refers to a fine, beautiful horse.

Rum Kicks Sounds like something a pirate might do while hanging from a noose at Tilbury Point, but we’d be wrong. Rum Kicks refer to gold or silver-brocade breeches.

Rum Clout Something a pirate might have when the rum is never gone. Nope! Rum Clout means a fine silk handkerchief.

Rum Nab The old nab the rum and run trick, eh? Could work, except Rum Nab refers to a good hat.

Rum Nantz A man named Nantz who likes to drink rum? Wrong. Rum Nantz refers to good French brandy.

Words a pirate needs to know in a London Underworld tavern:


Tavern/Ale House: Bowsing Ken

Alehouse/Inn: Touting Ken

Obscure Tavern: Hedge Tavern

Rogue’s Tavern: Flash Ken; Flash Crib

Beggar’s Tavern: Mumpers’ Hall

Rendzvous Tavern: Stop Hole Abbey

Fleet Street: The Mitre

Covent Garden: The Rose Tavern

Whitehall and Charing Cross: The Rummer

Pall Mall: The Star and Garter

Tavern Drinks:

All Nations: Collection of leftovers collected from bottles and bowls

Bragget: Mead and ale sweetened with honey

Cobbler’s Punch: Treacle, vinegar, gin, and water

Grog: Rum and water

Huckle my Puff; Twist: Beer, eggs and brandy, served hot

Kill Devil: Rum

Punch: Spirits, water, lemon and sugar

Purl Royal: Canary wine with a dash of wormwood

Toddy: Rum, water, sugar, and nutmeg

Vessels and Quantities:

Pint or Quart: Gage

Half Pint: Nip; Size of Ale Cogue; Shove in the Mouth

Bottle: Bouncing Cheat

Small Bottle: Bawdy-House Bottle

Large Bottle: Soldier’s Bottle

Quart Bottle: Scotch pint

Drinking Glass: Flicker; Romer

Drinking Bowl: Bubber; Whiskin

Silver Tankard: Clank

Rum Clank: Large silver tankard

Clank Napper: Thief who runs away with tankard

Full glasses or bowls: Bumpers or Facers

Empty bottles: Dead Men or Marine Officers

Drunk much? Here are various ways to say it:

Lightly Intoxicated: Bit by a Barn Mouse; Chirping Merry; Hickey; Mellow; In a Merry Pin; Tipsy

Getting drunker: Drop in His Eye; Half Cut; Half Seas Over; Sucky Boosey;

Drunk: Been in the Sun; Corned; Got into the Crown Office; Cup-Shot; Cut; Disguised; Flawed, Flustered; Foxed; Hocus; In his Altitudes; In the Gun; Nazie; Pogy; Pot Valiant; Bought the Sack; Top Heavy

Drunk Man: Bingo Boy; Ensign Bearer; Guzzle Guts; Piss Maker, Swill Tub; Tickle Pitcher; Toss Pot; and Vice-Admiral of the Narrow Seas (‘a man who urinates under the table into his companion’s shoes’)

Drunk Woman: Mort

Very drunk: Top Heavy Clear; Deep Cut; cut in the Back Leg; Drunk as David’s Sow; Drunk as a Wheelbarrow; Drunk as an Emperor; Floored; Maudlin Drunk; Surveyor of the Highways; Swallowed a Hare

Sick: Cast you your accounts; Cat; Flash the Hash; Cascade; Shoot the Cat; Flay the Flea; Flay the Fox

Hung over: Crop Sick; Womble-Ty-Cropt

Rat: Someone who gets taken up by the Watch and forced into an overnight stay

And there you have it! Adding ‘cant’, ‘Flash Lingo’, ‘St. Giles’ Greek’, and ‘Pedlars’ French’, to stories provides that extra level of depth needed to help readers travel back in time. As a historical author, I’m grateful to George Chaundas, Stephen Hart, and many other researchers for their brilliant and thrilling books. Like good wine before its time, there’s nothing better than ‘Faking a Screen’ (writing) and ‘Snilching’ (learning to behave) in roguish circles.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Corn Laws, Enclosures, and Poor Harvests = Unrest in Britian

In fiction set in Regency England, there’s often some mention of the Corn Laws. These laws regulated the importing of grain (in England, corn refers to any grain). Corn Laws date back to the Twelfth Century, however, they became particularly important in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s due to both a population growth in Britain and blockades from the French during the Napoleonic Wars. 

In the 1700’s, wheat prices had fallen due to an influx of foreign grain. At the same time, the Enclosed Acts had been passed—this meant there was no longer any open land that anyone might farm. Added onto all of this were the Game Laws—the penalty for poaching “or even being found in possession of a net at night” was transportation. 

While the Enclosure Acts enabled landowners to extend their parks and fields, those without land lost their right to trap extra meat on open land. The poor were now in a precarious spot. 

The Corn Laws stated that no foreign wheat (the staple of the poor) could be imported until British wheat reached  a price of 80/- per quarter. At the same time, those who worked the fields did not see an increase in wages to match and increase in food prices.

Bad harvest hit England in 1795, again over 1799 to 1801, and then again in 1802 and yet again between 1812 to 1822. One bad harvest is one thing—almost every farmer knows to store grain to deal with a bad year, and large scale farms can always get credit to get past one rough season. But repeated reduction in production meant two things—higher prices of the most basic food stuffs, and those with low incomes had less money to spend on goods. Manufactures also suffered losses due to the bad years.

The years 1810–1811 had cold winters (1811 was the year the Thames froze sold, and it froze again in 1814), and then heavy rains often brought floods, particularly to the east, where the fens provided very bad drainage. Poor harvests were noted in 1809 to 1812, with rioting as “banks failed and export trade collapsed.” Along with this was the Luddite uprising, and in 1812 in Nottingham, “a riot, engendered by the prevailing famine, commenced in the morning.” But the fail harvest came in better than in the prior year, which helped with a temporary fall in grain prices.

With all this going on, it starts to seem reasonable why England feared there might be a similar revolution to the one that occurred in France. France’s revolution had been driven not just by a need for equality, but by poor crops and an increased population. England faced similar issues.

The winters of 1813 and 1814 were again cold and long, delaying the ability to plant. Frosts were reported in many districts that lasted on through May, and summer storms brought hail and rain, which caused extensive crop damage in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. By the end of August, the weather turned hot and farmers who had survived were able to get in their harvests. By October and November, early freezes and hard rains hit many areas of England and Scotland.

In 1815, the government attempted to fix corn prices, and, but the country saw unrest and riots in may of the hardest hit areas. In 1815, the national debt also stood at £834 million, but the Income Tax, enacted to pay for the war with France was eliminated, shifting the burden of payment to indirect taxation. Again, the poor were hit the hardest as tax fell onto good purchased. Those with money could afford this—those without had even less money. The end of the war in Europe finally meant that Britain could again freely import grain, but any import was more expensive than local produce—and the grain could only be imported based on what the Corn Laws allowed.

But 1815 again saw a hard winter, as did 1816. The Farmer's Magazine summarized 1816’s harvest as “uncommonly unpropitious” and comparing it with “the memorable year 1799”.

While hardy root crops that could survive frosts would provide some food, grains and cash crops failed. The Farmer's Magazine reported that many tenant farmers were unable to pay rents, and many landlords were unwilling to offer abatement. In Wales, the tax was collected in certain districts in goods rather than in coin.

Reports in Nottingham were that gentlemen who were well off would come to market and distribute food to those without.  At the same time, Britain was also having to deal with a large military force returning from Europe, most of whom had not been back home in a very long time. This provided an even larger workforce, but in some areas jobs were scarce or low paying. The smart soldiers stayed in the army and went on to other spots of unrest in the growing empire.

Another wet summer occurred in 1817, with crops reported as “bad” in Scotland, and then 1818 provided a long, hot, dry summer, with rains finally arriving in autumn, then back to cold in 1819 with late frosts in May, and wet again in 1820. The up and downs of the weather continued on through until the late 1800s. And it was the potato blight and famine in 1845 that finally brought about the end of the Corn Laws, which were repealed in 1846.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Landowners in the Regency During Summer

by Donna Hatch

Ah, summer! It conjures up images of lazy summer days sipping lemonade and swimming. In mid June to early July, when the whirl of the London Season wound down because parliament ended, the gentry and aristocracy went back to their country homes. Which begs the question, since they were so rich and didn't have to work for a living, what did they do all day--especially in the summer? The answer to this may surprise you.

The British nobility never divided their wealth among their children; they left all of it to their heirs--usually their firstborn son. If they had no son, their entailed estate went to the next closest living heir and that was all pre-determined; there was no choosing an heir. (Certain things could be willed to those who are not the heir but that's a topic for another time) A younger son may inherit a lump sum when he reached adulthood, or he may receive an annual or month allowance. Sometimes that was enough for him to live off of, thus freeing him to enjoy hedonistic pleasures. However, most younger sons needed an occupation unless they inherited an in-entailed estate or money. They often became officers in the Royal Navy or army because they were educated. This was crucial when needing to read orders and write correspondence. Many became involved in the law as barristers, attorneys, and magistrates. Occasionally I hear of a younger son becoming a physician, but that seems to be rare. But for now, I will focus on those who don't have to work in an occupation for a living and who have a large estate for which they are responsible.

Wealthy landowners such as Mr. Darcy spent a great deal of time managing their lands. Think of it as being the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation. Yes, he has upper- and mid-management, but there are many decisions only he must make, meetings he must attend, and a staggering load of responsibility. A Regency landowner had solicitors, land stewards, and workers, but he had the responsibility to care for a huge estate which usually included many different locations, houses, lands, and tenants. Think of it as owning a whole bunch of rental properties with tenants who constantly needed repairs and help with all sorts of things which affected the overall prosperity of the estate. He might also be involved in investing and buying or selling properties which might involve travel. How he managed the family estate would affect generations to come, a heavy responsibility to shoulder with much at stake, so most took this seriously.

In addition to caring for their estate, most landowners were involved in politics. If they were titled, they were expected to serve in the House of Lords. If not, many served in the House of Commons. Parliament for months at a time, which took them away from their lands in the country. Those who served in the House of Lords could be called into serve as jury if a peer went to trial. 

So even though a number of them did enjoy hedonistic pleasures, an honorable landowner's life was not all fun and games, not even in the summer.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Art of Letter Writing in Regency England, Part I

I’ve just finished writing the second book in my Widow’s Club series and I ended up doing a fair amount of research on letters, letter writing, and the post during the Regency as my characters wrote a lot of letters as an integral part of the plot. Since I wanted to share some of the more interesting things I found out about the art of letter writing during the era, I’ve devised a short series of posts on this topic, starting with envelopes.
The number one thing I found out, that I absolutely did not know, is that envelopes come much later than the Regency. Envelopes do not come into common usage until about 1840, so Regency writers had to find other methods for ensuring the privacy of their letters. They could have enclosed the letter in a separate piece of folded paper, but the extra sheet would have added quite a bit of money to the postage (calculated by weight), which was then paid by the recipient, not the writer of the letter. Many people chose instead to use one sheet of paper (foolscap, post, and pott were popular), folded in half to form four pages of writing surface. They would write and often cross write over three of these pages, leaving the fourth page blank. The paper was then folded so this fourth page formed the envelope to keep out prying eyes and sealed. Sealing a letter could be accomplished by one of two means. Least expensive was to use a pre-formed wafer made from flour and gum that the writer licked and stuck to the paper to create a seal. The other method was to use sealing wax. I have, in my youth, used sealing wax on my letters to
friends and after this bit of research plan to find and use them again, as they give quite an elegant look. In the Regency, the letter writer would melt the end of a stick of sealing wax (which had no wick), then snub the pliable resin onto the envelope and press it with a seal or signet ring to insure against tampering. Sealing wax, I discovered, came in only three colors during the Regency era. Red was the most favored color and could be used at any time. Green was used by the Office of the Exchequer, the courts, and the Church. And black was used by those in mourning or to inform others of a death. Letter writing was absolutely a romantic part of previous eras and an art that I think we should bring back into our lives today. Next time I'll tell you what I learned about that most romantic of writing implements--the quill. Sources: “A Touch of Quill and Ink: Regency Letter Writing,” by Maria Grace “Anatomy of a Regency Letter,” from Lady Smatter, Her Reputation for Accomplishment

Friday, June 2, 2017

Historical research; Real-life counterfeiting in the Regency Era.

By guest blogger K. C. Bateman

Many of the events in my regency-era novels are based on real-life historical facts. The heroine of my new release, A Counterfeit Heart, is a Napoleonic French counterfeiter, and I unearthed some amazing real-life stories of wartime forgery during my research.
Napoleon really did employ a team of forgers to print fake currency to ruin his enemies. Letters written by him survive to prove the existence of a counterfeiting operation set up on his orders. He used fake currency to pay his own soldiers in Russia, and sent large quantities of fake Austrian banknotes into the country to try to destabilize the Austrian economy. Napoleon’s counterfeiting of Austrian currency put him in an awkward position a few years later when he married his second wife, the Austrian archduchess Marie-Louise. He was forced to issue a public ban on printing counterfeit money against her country, but of course, by then it was rather too late!
The use of counterfeit money has been a strategy in warfare for centuries. The idea is to flood the enemy's economy with fake money, devaluing the real money and causing an economic collapse.
During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress decided to create a new Continental currency to fund the fighting. Among the people enlisted to print this new currency was Paul Revere. To counter this, Great Britain enlisted teams of counterfeiters to travel throughout the American Colonies, placing their counterfeits into circulation in the hopes that it would cause an economic disaster. These counterfeiters were known as "shovers," presumably for their ability to "shove" the fake money into everyday use.
Counterfeiting was a problem in Georgian England, too. The Bank of England took it very seriously and employed a team of lawyers at great expense to ensure prosecutions. The statistics are dramatic: the period 1783-1797 saw only four prosecutions for forgery, but 1797-1821 saw over 2000 prosecutions and over 300 executions. The Bank spent thousands of pounds to secure these executions, and in some years, such as 1819, this amounted to more than was lost through forgery. Almost one third of all executions at this time were for forgery, the vast majority concentrated in the post-Napoleonic war period, when economic depression and the demobilization of thousands of troops and sailors produced ever greater incentives for the forger. In 1818, when almost 30,000 fake banknotes were in circulation, public sympathy for the hapless plebeian forger led to numerous acquittals.
Doubts were regularly expressed about the competence of the Bank of England in recognizing a fake from the real banknote, and the topic features in many of the satirical cartoons of the time. This anonymous caricature called A Peep into the Rag Shop in Threadneedle Street, dated 1814, shows a poor forger pleading with Bank of England directors who are examining a bank note. As the speech bubbles make clear, behind their callous bluster is dire ineptitude:
“Upon my soul I have my doubts but at all events—we had better declare it bad.”
“Take him out Thomas !!! he has a d——d hanging look.”
“Away with the Vagabond! Do you think we sit here for nothing!”


And this cartoon, by the well-known satirical illustrator George Cruickshank, also shows forged notes, and hints at the fact that paper currency was often considered untrustworthy in comparison to solid gold coins.

George Cruikshank, Johnny Bull and his Forged Notes!! or Rags and Ruin in the Paper Currency Published by J. Sidebotham, January 1819. (British Museum Satires 13197. Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum.)
In France, too, forgery was a very serious offence. Note what it says on the very top line of this French Assignat: ‘the law punishes the counterfeiter with death’. (La loi punit de mort le contrefacteur)

Here are some examples of both real and forged early 19th century banknotes:

A forged GB banknote of 1812.

A real British Banknote from 1811: one pound note with printed serials and date, signed in ink by the cashier.
And just to prove that ‘plus ça change,’ almost a hundred years after Napoleon’s attempts, another leader, Adolf Hitler, tried something very similar during the second World War, forcing prisoners to fake thousands of British banknotes in a plan called Operation Bernhart. The initial plan was to drop the notes by plane over Britain to bring about a collapse of the British economy. It was directed by, and named after, SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) Bernhard Krüger, who set up a team of 142 counterfeiters from inmates at Sachsenhausen concentration camp at first, and then from other camps, to forge British currency.
    So as you can see, history is full of extraordinary examples of counterfeiting, and for A Counterfeit Heart I employed the age-old authorial tactic of wondering ‘what if . . ?’ What if Napoleon were defeated before he could put his plans to flood Britain with counterfeits into action? What if one of his forgers was a feisty young woman named Sabine de la Tour? What would she do with a fortune in fake money? A Counterfeit Heart is my answer.

A Counterfeit Heart (Secrets & Spies Series)


A feisty counterfeiter and a cocky British agent clash in this sultry Secrets and Spies novel by K. C. Bateman, whose witty, intelligent, and sexy historical romances have become her signature.

As Sabine de la Tour tosses piles of forged banknotes onto a bonfire in a Paris park, she bids a reluctant farewell to her double life as a notorious criminal. Over the course of Napoleon’s reign, her counterfeits destabilized the continent and turned scoundrels into rich men, but now she and her business partner must escape France—or face the guillotine. Her only hope of surviving in England is to strike a deal with the very spy she’s spent her career outrunning. Now after meeting the arrogant operative in the flesh, Sabine longs to throw herself upon his mercy—and into his arms.

Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell, is prepared to take any risk to safeguard England from the horrors of the French Revolution. To lure the insurgents out from the shadows, he’s even willing to make a pact with his archenemy: Philippe Lacorte, the greatest counterfeiter in Europe. But when a cheeky, gamine-faced beauty proves herself to be Lacorte, Richard is shocked—and more than a little aroused. Unlike the debutantes who so often hurl themselves at him, this cunning minx offers a unique and irresistible challenge. Richard will help her. But in return, he wants something that even Sabine cannot fake.

Keep scrolling down for the first chapter of A Counterfeit Heart.

 Genre: Historical / Regency Romance

Heat level: Medium

Author biography:

Kate Bateman (writing as K. C. Bateman) wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she'd 'never finish the thing.' She gleefully proved him wrong with a historical set in the Italian Renaissance. Now writing for Random House Loveswept, her latest 'Secrets & Spies' Regency-era series features her trademark feisty, intelligent heroines, wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to alternately strangle and kiss—all mixed up in the intrigue and turmoil of the Napoleonic wars.

When not traveling to exotic locations 'for research', Kate leads a double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK, each of which has up to 2.5 million viewers. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and a husband who has flatly refused to read any of her books 'unless she hits the NY Times Bestseller list.' It is—naturally—her fervent desire to force the semi-illiterate, number-loving cynic to do so. He still owes her that dollar.

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Kate loves to hear from readers. Contact her via her website:
Find her on Twitter @katebateman

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A Counterfeit Heart

Chapter 1

Bois de Vincennes, Paris, March 1816.

It didn't take long to burn a fortune.
“Don't throw it on like that! Fan the paper out. You need to let the air get to it.”
Sabine de la Tour sent her best friend Anton Carnaud an exasperated glance and tossed another bundle of banknotes onto the fire. It smoldered then caught with a bright flare, curling and charring to nothing in an instant. “That's all the francs. Pass me some rubles.”
Another fat wad joined the conflagration. Little spurts of green and blue jumped up as the flames consumed the ink. The intensity of the fire heated her cheeks so she stepped back and tilted her head to watch the glowing embers float up into the night sky. It was a fitting end, really. Almost like a funeral pyre, the most damning evidence of Philippe Lacorte, notorious French counterfeiter, going up in smoke. Sabine quelled the faintest twinge of regret and glanced over at Anton. “It feels strange, don’t you think? Doing the right thing for once.”
He shook his head. “It feels wrong.” He poked a pile of Austrian gulden into the fire with a stick. “Who in their right mind burns money? It's like taking a penknife to a Rembrandt.”
Sabine nudged his shoulder, well used to his grumbling. “You know I’m right. If we spend it, we'll be no better than Napoleon. This is our chance to turn over a new leaf.”
Anton added another sheaf of banknotes to the blaze with a pained expression. “I happen to like being a criminal,” he grumbled. “Besides, we made all this money. Seems only fair we should get to spend it. No one would know. Your fakes are so good nobody can tell the difference. What’s a few million francs in the grand scheme of things?”
“We'd know,” Sabine frowned at him. “‘Truth is the highest thing that man may keep.’”
Anton rolled his eyes. “Don't start quoting dead Greeks at me.”
“That’s a dead Englishman,” she smiled wryly. “Geoffrey Chaucer.”
Anton sniffed, unimpressed by anything that came from the opposite—and therefore wrong—side of the channel. He sprinkled a handful of assignats onto the flames. “You appreciate the irony of trying to be an honest forger, don't you?”
It was Sabine's turn to roll her eyes.
Anton shot her a teasing, pitying glance. “It’s because you're half-Anglais. Everyone knows the English are mad. The French half of you knows what fun we could have. Think of it, chérie—ballgowns, diamonds, banquets!” His eyes took on a dreamy, faraway glow. “Women, wine, song!” He gave a magnificent Gallic shrug. “Mais, non. You listen to the English half. The half that is boring and dull and—”
“—law-abiding?” Sabine suggested tartly. “Sensible? The half that wants to keep my neck firmly attached to my shoulders instead of in a basket in front of the guillotine?”
She bit her lip as a wave of guilt assailed her. Anton was only in danger of losing his head because of her. For years he’d protected her identity by acting as Philippe Lacorte’s public representative. He’d dealt with all the unsavory characters who’d wanted her forger’s skills while she’d remained blissfully anonymous. Even the man who'd overseen the Emperor's own counterfeiting operation, General Jean Malet, hadn't known the real name of the elusive forger he’d employed. He’d never seen Sabine as anything more than an attractive assistant at the print shop in Rue Pélican.
Now, with Napoleon exiled on St Helena and Savary, head of the Secret Police, also banished, General Malet was the only one who knew about the existence of the fake fortune the Emperor had amassed to fill his coffers.
The fortune Sabine had just liberated.
Anton frowned into the flames. The pink glow highlighted his chiseled features and Sabine studied him dispassionately. She knew him too well to harbor any romantic feelings about him, but there was no doubt he had a very handsome profile. Unfortunately, it was a profile that General Malet could recognize all too easily.
As if reading her mind he said, “Speaking of guillotines, Malet would gladly see me in a tumbril. He’s out for blood. And I'm his prime suspect.”
“Which is why we’re getting you out of here,” Sabine said briskly. “The boat to England leaves at dawn. We have enough money to get us as far as London.”
Anton gave a frustrated huff and pointed at the fire. “In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a pile of money right—”
She shot him a warning scowl. “No. We are not using the fakes. Its high time we started doing things legally. This English lord’s been trying to engage Lacorte’s services for months. One job for him and we’ll be able to pay for your passage to Boston. You’ll be safe from Malet forever.”
“It could be a trap,” Anton murmured darkly. “This Lovell says he wants to employ Lacorte, but we've been on opposite sides of the war for the past ten years. The English can’t be trusted."
Sabine let out a faint, frustrated sigh. It was a risk, to deliver herself into the arms of the enemy, to seek out the one man she'd spent months avoiding. Her heart beat in her throat at the thought of him. Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell. She'd only seen him once, weeks ago, but the memory was seared upon her brain.
He, of anyone, had come closest to unmasking her. He'd followed Lacorte’s trail right to her doorstep, like a bloodhound after a fox. She’d barely had time to hide behind the back-room door and press her eye to a gap in the wood before the bell above the entrance had tinkled and he'd entered the print shop.
 It had been dark outside; the flickering street lamps had cast long shadows along Rue Pélican. Sabine had squinted, trying to make out his features, but all she could see was that he was tall; he ducked to enter the low doorway. She raised her eyebrows. So this was the relentless Lord Lovell.
Not for the first time she cursed her short-sightedness. Too many hours of close-work meant that anything over ten feet was frustratingly blurry. He moved closer, further into the shop—and into knee-weakening, stomach-flipping focus.
Sabine caught her breath. All the information she'd gleaned about her foe from Anton's vague, typically male attempts at description had in no way prepared her for the heart-stopping, visceral reality.
Technically, Anton had been correct. Richard Hampden was over six feet tall with mid-brown hair. But those basic facts failed to convey the sheer magnetic presence of his lean, broad-shouldered frame. There was no spare fat around his lean hips, no unhealthy pallor to his skin. He moved like water, with a liquid grace that suggested quietly restrained power, an animal at the very peak of fitness.
Anton had guessed his age as between twenty-eight and thirty-five. Certainly, Hampden was no young puppy; his face held the hard lines and sharp angles of experience rather than the rounded look of boyhood.
Sabine studied the elegant severity of his dark blue coat, the pale knee breeches outlining long, muscular legs. There was nothing remarkable in the clothes themselves to make him stand out in a crowd, and yet there was something about him that commanded attention. That drew the eye, and held it.
Her life often hinged on the ability to correctly identify dangerous men. Every sense she possessed told her that the man talking with Anton was very dangerous indeed.
Sabine pressed her forehead to the rough planks and swore softly. The Englishman turned, almost as if he sensed her lurking behind the door, and everything inside her stilled. Something—an instant of awareness, almost of recognition—shot through her as she saw his face in full. Of all the things she'd been prepared for, she hadn't envisaged this: Viscount Lovell was magnificent.
And then he’d turned his attention back to Anton, and she’d let out a shaky breath of relief.
She'd dreamed of him ever since. Disturbing, jumbled dreams in which she was always running, he pursuing. She’d wake the very instant she was caught, her heart pounding in a curious mix of panic and knotted desire.
Sabine shook her head at her own foolishness. It was just her luck to conceive an instant attraction to the least suitable man in Europe. The thought of facing him again made her shiver with equal parts anticipation and dread, but he was the obvious answer to her current dilemma. He had money; she needed funds. Voilà tout.
At least now she was prepared. One of the basic tenets of warfare was ‘know thine enemy,’ after all. Sabine drew her cloak more securely around her shoulders and watched Anton feed the rest of the money to the flames. The embers fluttered upwards like a cloud of glowing butterflies.
When this was all over she would be like a phoenix. Philippe Lacorte would disappear and Sabine de la Tour would emerge from the ashes to reclaim the identity she'd abandoned eight years ago. She would live a normal life. But not yet. There was still too much to do.
Sabine brushed off her skirts and picked up the bag she'd packed for traveling. There was something rather pathetic in the fact that her whole life fit into one single valise, but she squared her shoulders and glanced over at Anton. “Come on, let's go. Before someone sees the smoke and decides to investigate.”
They couldn't go home, to the print shop on Rue Pélican. Malet had already ripped the place apart looking for ‘his’ money. Her stomach had given a sickening lurch as she’d taken in the carnage. Books pulled from the shelves, paintings ripped from the walls, canvases torn. Old maps shredded, drawers pulled out and upended. Their home, her sanctuary for the past eight years, had been utterly ransacked.
But there had been triumph amid the loss. Malet had found neither Anton nor the money. And if Sabine had anything to do with it, he never would.
Anton hefted the two bags of English banknotes that had been spared the flames as Sabine turned her back on Paris. For the first time in eight long years she was free.
It was time to track down Lord Lovell.