Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Medieval Romance Giveaway at Goodreads!

To enter, please click on the link below:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Her Banished Lord  (Mass Market Paperback) by Carol Townend

Her Banished Lord

by Carol Townend

Giveaway ends December 11, 2010.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Harlequin Historical Advent Calendar

Announcing the Harlequin Historical Author Advent Calendar with individual giveways each day and on one grand prize winner of a Kindle 3G

For official rules, terms and conditions, click here.

List of dates and places of individual contests:

Lynna Banning December 1
Annie Burrows December 2
Charlene Sands December 3
Jeannie Lin December 4
Elizabeth Rolls December 5
Deb Marlowe December 6
Barbara Monajem December 7
Terri Brisbin December 8
Diane Gaston December 9
Joanne Rock December 10
Emily May December 11
Blythe Gifford December 12
Cheryl St.John December 13
Carol Townend December 14
Deborah Hale December 15
Amanda McCabe December 16
Michelle Willingham December 17
Georgina Devon December 18
Julia Justiss December 19
Michelle Styles December 20
Ann Lethbridge December 21
Denise Lynn December 22

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

British Soldiers of the Napoleonic War

In our Regency-set Harlequin Historicals the heroes often are soldiers or have been soldiers fighting in the Napoleonic War. In my Three Soldiers Series (Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, Dec 2009; Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress, Sept 2010; Gabriel's story, TBA) the Napoleonic battles of Badajoz and Waterloo figure prominently in the first part of each book.

I thought that readers might wonder about some elements of being a soldier in the British Army during this time and about why they fought war the way they did.

1. Why did they fight in such fancy uniforms?
Why the big hats and bright colors? Why the fancy stuff on uniforms, like epaulettes on the shoulders?

The big hats and epaulettes were designed to make the soldiers look taller, broader-shouldered, in other words, more formidable to the enemy. Cavalry on both sides had perhaps the fanciest uniforms, bright helmets with huge horsehair plumes, for example, making them look even more frightening when they charge the enemy.

Colors of uniforms helped the soldier identify who were his comrades and who were the enemy. During a battle, smoke from musket fire and cannon made it difficult to see. The easier it was to recognize your fellow soldiers, the better.

2. Why did the British all stand in a line to fire? Didn't this make it easier for the enemy to attack them?
In this time period state of the art warfare meant that huge numbers of soldiers faced each other on an open battlefield. Artillary (cannon) could be positioned to fire upon the enemy in such a setting, but the sheer numbers of soldiers were the trick to winning a battle.

The formation of a line was actually an effective and deadly tactic. The soldier's musket was not a very accurate firearm. The more accurate firearm was the rifle. But if the soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder and all fired at the same time, the enemy facing them would be rained with musket balls. It did not matter that the soldier could not aim at one specific target; the rain of fire would mow down great numbers of advancing enemy.

The musket only fired one shot and reloading was more complicated than today's firearms, so the lines were actually three or four soldiers deep. The front line advanced and fired, then immediately dropped down to reload, while the line behind them stepped forward and fired.

In this manner, the enemy faced an almost constant barrage of musket fire. Because so many muskets were fired at once, the chances of them hitting some target was maximized and more of the enemy would be hit.

3. What's a square and why would soldiers form into a square?
The square is a formation to defend against against a cavalry charge. The cavalry's biggest weapon is the horse. The cavalryman carries a sword, but at best would have only one shot in one pistol. To use his sword, the horse must carry him close to the enemy. If the enemy forms into a square, the cavalry horses will not get close enough for the sword to be used.

The square is just like it sounds. The British soldiers position themselves into a square and stand 4 soldiers deep. The first line of soldiers put their bayonets on their muskets and point the bayonets outward. The second line fires their muskets at the advancing cavalry, then drop back to reload and the men behind them step forward to fire. If any side of the square is opened, by artillary fire or by soldiers wounded by the advancing cavalry, the remaining soldiers quickly close the gap. Cannons and artillary men might be pulled inside the square so they can't be disabled by the cavalry. Officers on horseback can see better what is happening and can quickly shout orders to the men.

4. If rifles were more accurate, why didn't they use rifles?
They did use rifles. Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe, played so well on TV by Sean Bean, was a riflemen. Several riflemen were attached to a company. Their job was to go in advance of the line of soldiers and to fire at specific targets. They often targeted the enemy officers or the artillary men who were manning the cannon. Because rifles could be aimed at specific targets, riflemen could be very effective at rendering the enemy less efficient in their attack.

Here's the Trailer for the 1970 movie Waterloo. The battle scenes show, I think, a pretty accurate view of what battle would have been like:

Do you have any other questions about warfare during the Napoleonic War? I'm not an expert, but I'll try to answer.
Do you like books that include the war or do you prefer not to have the details of the battles in your romances? What do you think of soldier heroes in Regency-set romances?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gorgeous Feb. Cover for Undone! Anthology

Thought I'd share the sexy cover for the Undone! Anthology in Feb. and give everyone a little something to look forward too after the holidays. Too bad I hear it won't be out in North America--thank goodness for Amazon so we just order it!


His Stand In Bride by Michelle Styles -- free Online weekly serial

One of the great things about eharlequin is that they  do offer free online reads. In the past, Deb Hale, Diane Gaston, Michelle Willingham and a host of other authors have provided free online reads. Now it is my turn and I am very excited.
His Stand In Bride runs from 15 Nov to 3 Jan with a chapter released each week. Then it will remain in the eharlequin library of reads.
You can read the first chapter here.

Tyne Valley, 1813
When her sister eloped with someone other than her betrothed, Lady Anne Dunstan knew two things. One, that she completely supported her sister's making her own choice about who she would marry. And two, that Anne—the responsible one—would have to clean up the mess
What she didn't know was how her sister's intended, Jason Martell, would take the news. Or how Anne would respond to the force of his presence, his rugged good looks, his less-than-gentlemanly advances.
Or to his proposal of marriage.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Goodreads Giveaway of A Question of Impropriety by Michelle Styles

Michelle Styles is doing a Goodreads giveaway of December HH Direct Release -- A Question of Impropriety.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Question of Impropriety (Mass Market Paperback) by Michelle Styles

A Question of Impropriety

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends November 18, 2010.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, November 08, 2010

Regency Christmas Proposals

I hope everyone had a great Halloween (and didn't eat too much candy, as I did!). I can't believe it's now November, and Christmas is right around the corner. I'm already getting into the holiday mood, since I actually have a Christmas-themed release out this month, the anthology Regency Christmas Proposals!

I had so much fun working on the Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology with Diane and our friend Deb Marlowe that I loved getting to re-visit the characters for this story. I had never really intended for Mary Bassington to have her own tale, but after I met her I became very curious. Why was she so sad? What was going on between her and Dominick? Snowbound and Seduced was my chance to find out and give them their very own holiday HEA (and also catch up with some of the Welbourne crowd!).

I also love snowbound stories, am totally addicted to them, so it was easy to devise a plot for Mary and Dominick that would get them together again and make them talk to each other finally (among other activities...). They have to join forces to set out in nasty winter weather in order to track down her naughty younger sister--who has eloped with Dominick's cousin! On the way they find out the truth about the past, and discover that their love has never died. And they have a lovely, holly-berry Christmas too! (Regency Christmas Proposals also includes stories by Carole Mortimer and Gayle Wilson, so it's a great holiday treat!

Many of the traditions we consider "Christmas" actually began in the Victorian period (Regency Christmases, much like Regency weddings, were generally quieter, family affairs). People had always sent greetings and letters at Christmas-time, but our own practice of sending colorful, printed Christmas cards started in the 1840s (with their popularity booming with the advent of the penny post, which made it cheaper and easier to send cards!). It's said that a man named Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott to design a card for him and had 1000 printed up to send. The first company to make them on a massive scale was Charles Goodall & Sons of London in 1862.

Two London-based sweetmakers claimed the invention of the Christmas cracker (which appeared in "The Illustrated London News" in 1847). Based on a French bon-bon (a sweet in a twist of colored paper) the cracker adds paper hats and small trinkets as well as the loud "crack" when it's pulled apart. The Christmas tree was said to have come to England with Prince Albert (after his first child, Princess Vicky, was born, he wrote to his brother how much he looked forward to the next Christmas when "little daughter" could gambol around the tree!), and was added to the traditional decorations of holly and evergreen tied with bows. Our image of Santa Claus (Father Christmas) really took shape in this period, too.

What are YOUR favorite Christmas traditions? Do you like reading holiday stories?

(And I am giving away a signed copy of Regency Christmas Proposals on my own blog later today! Visit me at http://amandamccabe.blogspot.com for a chance to win)

Amanda McCabe