My cover

My cover
Nell and her oranges

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Banquet Hop Winners!

Congratulations Grace Elliot and History Writer - you're the winners! Email me your mailing addresses please (, and whether you'd like the mass market paperback of "The Darling Strumpet" (with excerpt from "Venus in Winter") or "Venus in Winter" (which I will have in a week or two!)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Banquet Hop! Enter to Win!

Summer Banquet Hop! Join me and thirty other historical novelists for a bounty of food-related posts and chances to win prizes!
I'm giving away two prizes: a copy of The Darling Strumpet, released in mass-market paperback on June 4, with a teaser chapter of Venus in Winter, or a copy of Venus in Winter, my novel based on the first forty years of the eventful life of the Tudor dynast Bess of Hardwick, coming July 2!

Enter by leaving a comment on this post. Get extra entries by following me on Twitter and/or for liking my Facebook author page:

The Darling Strumpet
“An absolute triumph as a debut novel . . . [It] is an absolutely brilliant addition to the historical fiction genre and might be the best novel on Nell Gwynn ever . . . Nell would have applauded in approval and probably done a little jig to celebrate her tribute.” — Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner

Venus in Winter
“A wonderful portrait of one of Elizabethan England’s most fascinating—and most long-lived—women. A great read, rich with detail and story.”—Diana Gabaldon, author of the bestselling Outlander series

Nell Gwynn, the subject of my novel The Darling Strumpet, was born in the slums of London in the area of Covent Garden. At the age of thirteen, she was hired as an orange seller at the newly-built Theatre Royal in Bridges Street, which opened on May 7, 1663. The present Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is the third building on the same site.

Oranges were a delicacy, and sold for sixpence, as much as the cheapest seats in the theatre. Nell’s witty banter and likeable sex appeal got her noticed, and soon she was the lover and protégé of Charles Hart, one of the leading actors and shareholders of the King’s Company. She probably made her debut in Thomas Killigrew’s comedy Tomaso, in a small part as a saucy wench. Nell rapidly became a favorite of London audiences, and she and Hart appeared in a series of “gay couple” comedies featuring battling lovers, making them the Myrna Loy and William Powell of the Restoration theatre.
Here’s a delightful seventeenth-century recipe featuring oranges:

Orange Butter
Good with plain cookies, on ice cream, etc. From  A Taste of History: 10,000 Years of Food in Britain, which took the recipe from The Savile Recipe Book, 1683, quoted in The Gentlewoman’s Kitchen.

¼ pint (150 ml) fresh orange juice, and thinly peeled zest of the oranges
¼ point (150 ml) white wine
6 egg yolks
2 T. (30 ml) sugar
Soak the zest in the orange juice and white wine for 30 minutes to enrich the flavor, then remove. Beat the eggs yolks and sugar and add to the orange juice. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and stir continuously over a low heat until thick and creamy, but do not allow to bring to a boil. Allow the butter to cool and serve with wafers as a rich full-flavored fruit dip.

The original recipe:
R. a quarter of a Pint of cleared juice of Oranges, a quarter of a Pint of white wine, pare the Peel of your Oranges thinne, steep itt in the juice & white-wine halfe an hour, then put in when you have taken out the pill a little fine Sugar, to take away the sharpnesse. Then beat the yolks of six eggs very well, & put them into the liquor, & sett them over the fire, & keep itt continually stirring till you find it almost as thick as Butter then throw it about the dish or bason, & let itt stand all night, in the morning take itt off lightlie with a spoon, & serve itt as other Butter.

For more on my books and events, please visit my website,!

Be sure to visit the blogs of the other authors participating in the Summer Banquet Hop! Hop Participants
  1. Random Bits of Fascination (Maria Grace)
  2. Pillings Writing Corner (David Pilling)
  3. Anna Belfrage
  4. Debra Brown
  5. Lauren Gilbert
  6. Gillian Bagwell
  7. Julie K. Rose
  8. Donna Russo Morin
  9. Regina Jeffers
  10. Shauna Roberts
  11. Tinney S. Heath
  12. Grace Elliot
  13. Diane Scott Lewis
  14. Ginger Myrick
  15. Helen Hollick
  16. Heather Domin
  17. Margaret Skea
  18. Yves Fey
  19. JL Oakley
  20. Shannon Winslow
  21. Evangeline Holland
  22. Cora Lee
  23. Laura Purcell
  24. P. O. Dixon
  25. E.M. Powell
  26. Sharon Lathan
  27. Sally Smith O'Rourke
  28. Allison Bruning
  29. Violet Bedford
  30. Sue Millard
  31. Kim Rendfeld