The sexy Scot hero of my next book has an interview at SOS Aloha in honor of Valentine’s Day! Kim is giving away some fun prizes as well, so stop by and read what Kieran has to say!
Tag Archives: valentine day
As readers of historical romance can tell you, beneath the buttoned-up corsets and coats of the Victorian era beat some very passionate hearts. Valentine’s Day as we know it originated in 19th century England. Before then, it was a date to commemorate feelings for loved ones, but it was not widespread or particularly elaborate. Printers in England developed cards varying from sentimental to bawdy in honor of Valentine’s Day, which quickly caught on with the public. The idea of sending cards to loved ones spread to America mid-century, thanks to a teenage girl with a shrewd head for business.
Esther Howland was born in Wooster, Massachusetts in 1828. The daughter of a prosperous bookseller, little is known of her life until 1847, when an associate of her father’s sent her a Valentine’s card from England. The folded bit of paper intrigued her, less for its sentimental value than as a source of income for the family business.
I must digress here. Southward A. Howland, her father, must have been a remarkable man for his era. Not only had he sent his daughter to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now known as Mount Holyoke College), but when Esther suggested that she design a line of new merchandise for his store, he supported the idea. At a time when most men insisted their wives and daughters stay within the domestic sphere, he encouraged Esther to live up to her potential.
However, back to Esther herself. After convincing her father to import paper lace and other materials to make the cards, her brother took up the task of selling them, armed with a few samples she had created.
She hoped for $200 in sales. He came back with $5,000 worth. This was more than she had bargained for, and she recruited friends to help her. Although Henry Ford would not conceive of the assembly line for decades, Esther divided up the process of making each card and assigned one person to each task: Cutting out and sorting pictures, cutting out backgrounds of different colored paper from a template, embellishing the backgrounds with paper lace, adding floral decorations and verses. The process eventually took over an entire floor of the family house, but a tradition was born.
Eventually, Esther’s sideline outgrew the house. Her New England Valentine Company would gross over $100,000 a year — in Victorian dollars. In modern dollars this is the equivalent of between 1.5 and 2 million dollars. She took advantage of her income to indulge in facials and fashionable clothes, but she also paid her predominantly female workforce a decent wage. Ironically, the Queen of Valentines never married. The reasons are unclear. She was considered a handsome woman, but she may have been reluctant to give up a business she loved, as would have been expected of her at the time. She may have simply never fallen in love.
In 1881, she did sell the company to a competitor and devote herself to her father, whose health had deteriorated. She died in 1904, having brought pleasure to thousands through her cards.
I am appearing as part of Monica Burns’ Pleasure Me Blog Event today, and hope some of you might want to stop by! Come by and read about why It’s the Little Things that Count! Leave a comment and you might get a free signed copy of HER SCOTTISH GROOM.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we all know what that means! Time to curl up with chocolate, champagne and a good romance. Here is my completely subjective and unscientific list of new books for my TBR pile.
After dark with a Scoundrel, Alexandra Hawkins: The third book in the Lords of Vice series, this one centers around the Earl of Chillingsworth’s sister, who has spent several years in a respectable school for young ladies after she got caught snogging Lord Hugh Mondare. Lady Regan’s interest in her brother’s friend is unquenched after five years, and she returns to London determined to follow up on it. I look forward to Frost as a protective older brother as well. This has been a wonderful series so far, and I am looking forward to Regan and Dare’s story. February 1, 2011
Invitation to Sin, Jo Beverly et al: This romance anthology includes stories by Beverly, Vanessa Kelly, Sally McKenzie and Kaithlin O’Riley. Four stories abounding with disreputable neighbors, secret affairs, scandalous behavior, unconventional women and bold, sexy men. I enjoy comparing the voices of different writers in anthologies, and given the authors assembled for this one, it should be quite the Valentine’s Day treat. February 1, 2011
One Night is Never Enough, Anne Mallory: Charlotte Chatsworth is understandably horrified to find that her father has gambled her away to Roman Merrick, head of a criminal empire in 19th century London. Papa didn’t even gamble away her hand in marriage, just her virtue. Roman expects to have his night with the exquisite lady and then leave her. Neither of them expect their one night to turn into love, but when that happens, they each face ruin. I’m especially intrigued by the hero here: Roman’s manipulations could cross the line into being a bit creepy, but I’m willing to see how he turns out. February 22, 2011
To Desire a Wicked Duke, Nicole Jordan: The last in the Courtship Wars series gives Tess Blanchard her own story. And it should be a good one, since she and ‘her’ Duke are caught in an extremely compromising (and hot) embrace within the first pages of the book. Ian Sutherland is interfering, possibly manipulative, undoubtedly handsome, and has loved Tess for years. In other words, the perfect romantic hero. I really, really, really can’t wait for this one, but I have to until February 22, 2011.
Pleasure Me, Monica Burns: A courtesan who thinks she’s past her prime meets a younger man in need of deflowering. This premise could be a disaster in the wrong hands, but Burns’ erotic romances raise the bar for her genre, so this one is totally going into my TBR pile. Both Lady Ruth Attwood and Garrick Stratfield sound like well rounded, sympathetic characters. Who are going to engage in some very hot love scenes. March 1, 2011
What upcoming releases are you going to add to your TBR pile?