Monthly Archives: May 2016

Historical Romance Brought to Life

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to London. In three and a half days, I squeezed in sight-seeing all around the city, plus trips to the Cotswolds, Bath, and Stonehenge. Suffice to say, my Fitbit got quite the workout!

Those of you who have been following this blog (or, more particularly, my Goodreads reviews) know of my love for historical romance. Well, this trip made me feel as if I’d stepped into the pages of some of my favorite books. Best of all, the settings exceeded my imagination (no easy feat).

For example, take Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and also the family estate of the 12th Duke of Marlborough (and his ancestors).

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

I imagine this might be something like the Duke of Bewcastle’s grand estate (from Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous). By the way, that’s still one of my favorite books. And yes, this was actually one family’s home. The current Duke still keeps apartments there, although obviously it is open to touring as well. This is where he and his family still celebrate Christmas dinner!IMG_7610

Then we have Windsor Castle, which is where the Queen sometimes lives, and is also home to St. George’s Chapel (where Henry. How many historicals mention the King’s court and St. George’s? Many! It was beyond exciting to be there.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

I also toured the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Sadly, we weren’t permitted to take photos of those, but those crowns had jewels as big as lumps of coal. This is also the place where many executions occurred, including Anne Boleyn. It was haunting to read the dozens of etched texts left by past prisoners.

Prisoner's inscription

Prisoner’s inscription

This one was my favorite. In case you can’t read it, it reads: Wise men ought circumspectly to see what they do, to examine before they speake, to prove before they take in hand, to beware whose company they use and, above all things, to whom they trust.

The history is phenomenal.

I strolled down “Rotten Row” in Hyde Park. Saw the former mansions in Mayfair. Visited Covent Garden and saw a show in a theater built in the 1800s. Luckily, however, I was not forced to do all of this while wearing a corset, long dress, and slippers!

Finally, we went to Bath, a beautiful little town. It’s been described in so many of my beloved historical romance novels, I nearly floated across its streets from the excitement of being there.

Bath

Bath

I wish I could return and spend time there writing (possibly in the very place where Jane Austen used to meet up with her contemporaries).

Assembly Room where Jane Austen used to hang out!

Assembly Room where Jane Austen used to hang out!

 

 

 

 

I feel so blessed to have been able to take the trip. Now every time I read another historical romance, I will be transported again and again.

Is there a setting you’ve read about in a story and would love to visit? Do share!

XO-Jamie

 

“Promposals:” A Good Thing or Not?

It’s that time of year again: Prom season!

Some things haven’t changed throughout the decades, like mothers and daughters going shopping for the perfect dress and shoes. Of course, gone are the flouncy princess dresses of yore. I still remember my purple silk-organza gown, with its ruffled, off-the-shoulder neckline, fondly. It looked perfect with my Eighties-style big hair, I swear! Sadly, all the pictures are at my mom’s, so I can’t share.

Other things have changed a lot, most notably the latest trend: the Promposal. Teen boys (for the most part) across the nation nervously planning some way to wow their prospective dates with an Instagram or YouTube-worthy plan.

I can’t decide whether or not I think these Promposals are a good or bad thing.

They range from the sweet:

 

To the touching/tear-jerker:

 

To the painfully awkward:

 

My initial response to the hoopla is that it is a result of the reality-TV / selfie-obsessed generation that’s been trained to believe every second of every day needs to be larger-than-life and recorded for posterity. That side of this craze isn’t healthy. Not only does it create a tremendous amount of pressure on kids to come up with bigger and better ideas, but it’s also proven that chronic social media focus is actually causing depression…but that’s a topic for another post.

On the other hand, and particularly when watching some of the cuter Promposals that go well, I have to admit that I love watching creative kids who are willing to make themselves vulnerable in such a public way. There’s something courageous and inspiring about it.

And maybe these bigger milestones deserve to be recorded. Honestly, I can’t remember how my boyfriend asked me to Prom. We’d been dating all year, so it’s possible he never formally asked at all. We just assumed we’d be going!

So what’s your take on the Promposal: yay or nay?

XOXO-Jamie