My newest story has just released ~ The Prairie Doctor's Bride!
The Prairie Doctor's Bride takes place in Kansas in the spring of 1879 and the good doctor is in need of a nurse. Nelson Graham figures that by marrying a smart, resourceful woman, he'll get both - a nurse and a wife. It's a win/win situation - or so he thinks. The first train-load of women have come and married men in the town and he sees that they are all quite happy. (You can read their stories in Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove.) With the second train-load of women, he is set to make a play for the perfect woman for him.
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Raising her son alone, penniless Sylvia Marks has had enough of being the subject of town gossip. But when her son is seriously injured, she'll do anything to save him...even kidnap handsome Dr. Nelson Graham!
Nelson knows what he wants in a a wife, she's to be amiable, biddable and skilled in domestic chores. Gun-toting Sylvia isn't what he had in mind, but as the two are forced together, he realizes she's exactly what he needs!
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Here's a short excerpt ~
Left to himself, Nelson considered the notes he'd made earlier that day and withdrew the paper from his vest pocket. It was a "wish list" of sorts. Likely, no woman would meet all his expectations, but perhaps it would help him stay on course as he considered each of them.
Able to take constructive criticsm
Skilled in domestic chores: Cooking, laundry, cleaning, sewing, and gardening
Willing to work by his side as his nurse
Quiet. He didn't want a woman who disrupted his research or his daily habits
Willing to put another's needs ahead of her own
He'd added the last as a cautionary point, remembering his fiancee. He'd thought they were compatible in all things, but then suddenly she had broken off the engagement, unable to accept the numerous times he'd been called away to help someone who was ailing.
He wouldn't let that happen again. What he needed was a practical woman as his wife. She didn't need to be a raging beauty, but like any man, he wouldn't mind if she was pleasant to look upon.
He tucked the paper back into his pocket and headed to his office. Now, all he had to do was interview the ladies, one at a time, and see which one came closest to fulfilling his wish list.
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The Prairie Doctor's Bride is a new story in the Oak Grove Series that I share with Lauri Robinson. From the first book, we have delighted in the people that make up the town. (Personally, I would love to stroll down the main street and meet them all!)
Annie Burrows is running a worldwide giveaway via Goodreads
from 7th December 2017. She will be giving away 3 signed copies of her
25th release for Harlequin Historicals, "The Marquess Tames His Bride"
For details of how to enter, please go to our Giveaways page, for link.
On my regular monthly blog for the Novelistas UK, I was asked the following question:
"Do you use real locations? Which locations have inspired you? (I think you may have done this before!)
Ditto the Regency clothes - do you make them up, or are they actual clothes?"
OK, well, first of all, if you’ve read any of my books, you will know that I don’t, as a rule, put in a lot of detail about this sort of thing. This is because I think it can detract from the story, and the action going forward if you keep breaking off to spend whole paragraphs describing a room, or an outfit. I tend to use broad brushstrokes to suggest the era, or the scene, or even the clothes, and rely on the reader to fill in the gaps with their own imagination. So that I can concentrate on the emotional inner life of my character, and the action going forward.
BUT…part of being able to create vivid, believable Regency characters comes from being historically accurate. I have to know all about the background even if all I’m going to do is sketch it in briefly, or it won’t ring true, and will be a far less enjoyable read.
This particularly true of clothing. I have to know what a Regency lady would wear, so that love scenes can play out convincingly as the hero removes her garments one by one. I need to know what type of corset she might wear, how her stockings were held up, and whether or not she wore drawers. Not only will this place her firmly within the historical era, but it will also say something about her social status, and her personality, too. Silk stockings, rather than cotton, for example, or a gown that laces up at the back, rather than the front will tell the informed reader (and most readers of Regency are very knowledgeable about the customs of the age) a lot about my heroine without me having to take another couple of sentences explaining whether she is upper or lower class, wealthy or poor.
I also sometimes zoom in on an outfit a heroine is wearing to help show how she is feeling. “The Captain’s Christmas Bride” for example, opens with the heroine’s friend struggling to do up the laces of her gown. A short cut to telling the reader she has body issues.
In the opening section of “The Debutante’s Daring Proposal”, the heroine is conscious of her frayed gloves and her muddy boots when the hero strides onto the page looking all expensive and elegant, to emphasise the differences in their social and financial status.
As on all other topics of Regency life, I have a few favourite books that I frequently consult to give me inspiration, or to help me describe an outfit convincingly.
Another thing I’ve done is to purchase a reconstruction of a Regency costume, to see what it would feel like to move around in long skirts. I wasn’t surprised that my movements felt a bit restricted compared to the normal jeans and t shirt which are my usual everyday wear. Long skirts are not very practical. By the end of the day the hem was filthy. It seemed to suck up dirt like a hoover. Being cotton, though, it washed very well, and came up good as new. However, it made me realise that keeping clothes clean would indeed need the services of a maid to do the laundry and ironing. You couldn’t keep clothes clean without the help of servants. Wearing light colours had to have been a symbol of status. Lower class women would surely have chosen darker colours that didn’t need laundering every day, or changing every day at least. So all those debutantes in their pristine white muslin gowns were probably making more of a statement than just about their youth and virginity.
One thing that did surprise me, though, was how warm the outfit was. Everyone assumes that wearing light muslin or cotton gowns must have meant that the women would have felt cold. The gown I’m wearing in the picture was actually made up of two dresses. An underdress and an overdress. The outfit came with a full length cotton petticoat, too. The underdress could have been worn on its own, but I chose to put on the top one as well on this day. Once I’d put all three layers on, I was actually too warm, so had to (shock, horror!) remove the petticoat. I didn’t buy a corset, since I was only out in Regency garb for fun, not to go on a re-enacting event where authenticity would have been more important, but I can imagine that had I been dressed in a shift, corset, petticoat, underdress and overdress, I would have jolly well needed to make use of a fan to keep me from sweating. A properly brought up Regency lady would not have ventured out of doors without a bonnet and gloves, either. (I did buy a bonnet, but went without the gloves – shockingly fast of me!) What with all those layers, and a hat and gloves, I felt I could have survived the most inclement weather. Or at least, I could have done with the addition of a spencer (short jacket) or pelisse (long coat) Don’t forget that with full length skirts, you could wear pretty much what you liked underneath and nobody would have seen it. Thick woollen stockings and boots in winter? Probably.
So, I do study pictures of what Regency ladies wore, and I’ve spent a day wearing a reconstruction of the type of gown a Regency lady would have worn, so that I know how she would feel in it.
So that I can leave out the descriptions of gowns with a fair amount of confidence!
If you'd like to ask Annie anything about her writing, or her research, you can contact her on the Novelista Blog, where she answers reader's questions on the 1st Friday each month.