Sunday, April 19, 2015


Alison Weir. When she became my friend on Facebook, I cried. This lady writes history books which are so well written they read as easily as fiction. When I visit the U.K., I haunt book stores, looking for U.K. First Editions of her books, to correspond with the U.S. First Editions I own. She has graciously accepted my offer to be a part of the Tudor blogs to celebrate the U.S. launch of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall on Masterpiece Theatre (PBS). Without further ado, let’s see what Alison has prepared for us today…

The Banquet Tapestry courtesy The Tapestry House

My interest in Tudor England stretches back over five decades and more than twenty books, and I know there are many others with a passion for the period. So I thought it would be fun to give some hints and ideas for hosting the perfect Tudor dinner party.
I did just that, some years ago, one Christmas Eve, and my family agreed that it was a fascinating and enjoyable evening. Before starting any preparations, I did some research, and the books that I found most helpful were these: All the King’s Cooks: The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace by Peter Brears (London, 1999); Food and Feast in Tudor England by Alison Sim (Stroud, 1997); The Art of Dining: A History of Cooking and Eating by Sara Paston-Williams (The National Trust, 1993) and, for the recipes I used, The Tudor Kitchens Cookery Book, Hampton Court Palace by Roz Denny (undated).
The first thing to consider is the setting. We don’t all live at Hampton Court – worse luck – and most of us don’t have a great hall, but many have dining rooms, or dining parlours, as they would have been known, and you can add atmosphere by the setting of the table and using candles for lighting. Spread a white linen or damask cloth on the table. You may like to strew fresh herbs or petals along the table, or in the centre. Place pewter or silver bowls of salt at intervals.
Each place setting should have the following, although you may wish to adapt it to suit the preferences of modern diners: a pewter or silver dinner plate, with a knife and spoon next to it on the right – add a fork if you must, but their use was a luxury in Tudor times (when people speared food with a knife and ate it with the fingers of the other hand, using the spoon for runny dishes) – and a white napkin to the left, folded around two white bread rolls – ‘manchet’, or white, bread, was considered to be the best, and was therefore served to the upper classes. If you bake the rolls yourself, make a cross in the middle. On the right of each dinner plate place a goblet for wine. Wine is served from flagons or ewers placed in the centre of the table, each covered with a cloth.
Food was served in two or three courses, and there were several dishes at each, like a Chinese or Tapas meal today. Each dish would have been served as a ‘mess’ – with portions sufficient for four brought in serving dishes to the table. Sauces were often served in separate dishes. Sweet and savoury courses were served at the same time, but you may – as I did – prefer to keep to a more modern meal structure, with a starter, main course and pudding. Hard cheeses and wine can be served with sweet dishes.
If you have a sideboard or console table, convert it into a Tudor buffet by draping it with silk or damask (scarves or runners will work for this) and arranging on it any silver you have, as well as extra wine cups or glasses – we’ll assume that this is a wealthy Tudor household and that you can afford glass!
Tudor Table (1)
In Tudor times hosts and guests were seated in strict order of rank, but in this more egalitarian age it’s best to seat guests wherever you or they wish.
Napkins were worn, not in the lap, but across the left shoulder or arm.
Food was served with great ceremony, being carried to the table in procession. You might like to record a trumpet fanfare to signal the arrival of each course.  As the food is brought in, you announce, ‘By your leave, masters!’ and everyone stands, sitting down when the dishes are placed on the table.
Grace is then said, in Latin. I used the Christchurch Grace, from Oxford:
Nos, miseri homines et egeni, pro cibis, quos nobis ad corporis subsidium benigne es largitus, tibi, Deus Omnipotens, Pater Cælestis, gratias reverenter agimus; simul obsecrantes, ut iis sobrie, modeste atque grate utamur, per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum, Amen.
This translates as:
We unhappy and unworthy people do give Thee most reverent thanks, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for the victuals which Thou hast bestowed on us for the sustenance of the body, at the same time beseeching Thee that we may use them soberly, modestly and gratefully. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
If a joint of meat is served, the host carves – it was the mark of a gentleman to know how to do so. Gentlemen guests should help their ladies to the choicest portions of food before serving themselves.
For drinks, serve the kind of wines that were enjoyed – and drunk young – in Tudor England: sweet wines from Anjou (Henry VIII’s favourite) or red and white wines from Bordeaux or the Rhine. Ale and beer can also be served. Water was not drunk at table.
After each course of a Tudor feast a subtlety – a sculpted confection of sugar – was carried in impress the guests, but at a dinner party it is probably better to serve it with the dessert course. Unless you are skilled at sugar sculpture, or know where to get one made, it may be better to go for an elaborate cake.
During the meal, you might like to have a CD of Tudor music playing quietly in the background, as if a consort of musicians was present.
For my Christmas Eve meal, I served dishes that involved a fair amount of preparation. To start there was a whole fresh salmon, a fish that was popular in Tudor times. Having laid it on greased foil on a baking tray, I stuffed it with some butter mixed with ground mace and salt, and spread the rest over the outer skin, sprinkled it with whole cloves and covered it with more foil. I baked the fish until the flesh was pale pink, placed it on a large platter, and garnished it with whole stewed prunes, currants, lemon wedges and dill.
In Tudor kitchens they would have roasted a pig whole, but for the main course I bought a leg of pork from my local butcher – boned shoulder will do as well – and trimmed away any fat or gristle. I then stuffed it with a mixture of breadcrumbs, chopped rosemary, raisins, two egg yolks, 100ml of cream, nutmeg, ground mace and seasoning, and trussed up the joint with string. While it was roasting I mixed more breadcrumbs with 100ml of cream, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, saffron and seasoning. Half an hour before the joint was finished, I removed it from the oven and coated it with this mixture, then returned it until it was done. I left it to stand before carving, to allow it to set, and reserved the strained juices for the sauce.
Tudor kitchen at Hampton Court Palace. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Tudor kitchen at Hampton Court Palace. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
I made up the meat juices to the amount needed with stock and water, then added a large grated apple, cider vinegar, parsley, sage, sugar, salt and pepper. I brought it to be boil, then simmered until the apple was soft and stirred in a lump of butter for richness.
The meat was carved at table and the sauce was served separately. I also offered ‘a dish of peas’ – which the Tudors would have eaten as a dish in itself, not a vegetable on the side – and a dish of carrots. There were – of course – no potatoes, which prompted a protest from my husband! Instead, I served thick slices of brown bread.
I made two sweet dishes: wardens, or pears, in red wine, which were absolutely delicious, and marchpane.
The day before the dinner I peeled the pears, left on the stalks, and boiled the fruit for 15 minutes in heated red wine in which sugar had been dissolved. I then removed the fruit and placed it in preserving jars. I added to the wine some ‘sack’ (sherry), more sugar, honey, cinnamon and ginger, then boiled it, simmered it for 5 minutes, then poured it over the pears, sealing the jars shut. The next day I poured off the wine syrup into a jug, placed the pears – now ruby red – in a serving dish, then poured the syrup over them. I added bayleaves as garnish and served the pears with thick whipped cream.
You can make marchpane – a popular Tudor treat – by following any recipe for shortbread and adding rosewater. Use cutters to make shapes, and glaze with icing and edible gold food colouring. My marchpane disappeared very quickly!
Although the meal had been labour-intensive – and brought home to me how hard people had had to work to prepare food from scratch in the sixteenth century – everyone said it was wonderful, with excellent flavours and aromas. Certainly it gave us a taste of Tudor England!
There was no tea or coffee in Tudor times, so after the meal I suggest you serve guests warmed spiced wine – ‘hippocras’ – and wafers or candied and dried fruits.
What should you wear for your Tudor dinner party? You could go the whole hog and hire a costume – you could even come in character, and suggest that your guests do so, and remain in role for the evening. Or you could just wear a plain velvet evening dress with some Tudor-style jewellery.
If you are planning a Tudor dinner party, I do urge you to get the books I recommended above, as they are packed with recipes and information on table etiquette. Above all, have fun. There will be so many talking points that all the preparation will have been worthwhile.
‘O Lord, which giv’st thy creatures for our food,
Herbs, beasts, birds, fish, and other gifts of thine,
Bless thee thy gifts, that they may do us good,
And we may live, to praise thy name divine.
And when the time is come this life to end:
Vouchsafe our souls to heaven may ascend.’
(An Elizabethan Grace)
Can can find Alison Weir at these sites:

Saturday, April 18, 2015

"She Blew My Mind"

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Please join me in welcoming celebrated author, C.W. Gortner, to Expats Post. His latest novel,Mademoiselle Chanel, launches today. USA Today has named this book the #1 “Hot Books: New and Noteworthy on Sale this Week.” I can’t wait to read this book. After finding out more aboutMademoiselle Chanel, you’ll want to get a copy, too.
She revolutionized fashion and built an international empire – all on her own terms.
Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. The nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that propels the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood. Burning with ambition, the petite brunette transforms herself into Coco, by day a hard-working seamstress and by night a singer in a nightclub, where her incandescence draws in a wealthy gentleman who becomes the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.
Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, Coco’s sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As her reputation spreads, her couture business explodes, taking her into rarefied circles of society and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her always.
An enthralling novel about an entirely self-made woman, Mademoiselle Chanel tells the true story of Coco Chanel’s extraordinary ambition, passion, and artistic vision.


A former fashion executive, C.W. Gortner is a lifelong admirer of Coco Chanel. His passion for writing led him to give up fashion, and his many historical novels have been bestsellers, published in more than twenty countries.
Find out more about the author at www.cwgortner.comFollow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, February 21, 2015



Who wants a free read? Get the fun novelette, FORTUNE BRAWLING via Amazon February 22nd for free .
“A 5 shot, LOL read.”
Brawling LG
Two guitars. Two wild women. One crazy honky tonking night in Georgia. The Ace is high and the Joker is always wild.
When Texas meets Tennessee, the end result spells T.R.O.U.B.L.E.  Fortune Brawling is the second story in The Fortune Series. Set in  contemporary Nashville and the surrounding rural areas. The series chronicles the life and loves of Dallas Fortune.
While you’re on Amazon, pick up story 1 FORTUNE CALLING and meet Dallas Fortune. This short story is free, too. The only thing better than a free read is two free reads, right? Get them now!
Fortune Sml

Friday, February 13, 2015

RESCUING CADE, Elodie Parkes and Sexy Secrets Revealed..

Elodie Parkes joins me today, as we celebrate the release of  Rescuing Cade, from Evernight Publishing.
Hi, Elodie, welcome! I have five questions for you today. This is different from the usual author interviews you do.

Hi, it’s great to be here. (Smiles)
1.     Tell us a secret about your books, anything that springs to mind as long as you’ve never revealed the answers to anyone before.
Yikes, that will blow the secret, then, huh. (Grins) Okay here we go. This is scary. It’s not about my new release, Rescuing Cade, from Evernight, but about, Candle Magic, my Dec 23 release with Siren. In my stories there’s always the tiniest part of truth from either my life or from some real life situation and I never tell anyone.
In Candle Magic, my heroine, Simi, tells Jason, my hero, about her family. That part is a truth and it’s about me. Jason is part spirit, part angel made human through the magical connections Simi has triggered by finding a candlestick and buying old candles from an antique shop.
Here’s the snippet.
Reluctantly he pulled away from her lips. “I’m sorry I don’t have a Christmas gift for you. I’d like to have brought you something.”
Surprise showed in her eyes as he gazed at her.
“I have nothing for you either, but we have each other today, and if I hadn’t met you last night, I would be alone today, and from what you’ve said about family, so would you.”
Jason rocked her in his arms, incredibly pleased at what she’d said. “We do have each other. What happened to your family, your parents? Is that prying?” he added, aware it might be something horrible that Simi wouldn’t want to reveal.
“They moved out of the country. They disowned me. I don’t know why really. They just stopped replying to my emails and calls.”
Startled by this sad revelation, Jason hugged her. “I’m so sorry. Do you think something might have happened to them?” He made a mental note to check on that if he returned to the ether.
Simi leaned back in his arms. “Nothing has. I check on them.” She grinned then continued. “They have a surf and ski shop. It has webcams up that show the interior and exterior of the shop to the world. I check it out when I’m online. I see them in there.”
Astounded, Jason stared at her. There were no words to express his surprise, empathy, or sorrow at this bizarre situation.
She must have become embarrassed because she bowed her head silently.
Jason crushed her to his chest, his hand in her hair and his arm around her waist. “Hell, Simi, that must hurt you. I don’t know what to say.” He rocked her again, stroking along her back in an attempt to convey comfort and care. He remembered the Kris Kringle gift, and seeking to lighten the mood, he reminded Simi. “You have that gift from your office party. Open it. It will be fun to see what someone got for you.”
Copyright Elodie Parkes, Siren Publishing.
Thank you for sharing that secret. I’m tempted to ask what the secret fact is in Recuing Cade, but … on to the next question.
2.     What do you like most about sex?
Oh no. (Laughs) That’s worse than giving up a secret. I’ll answer. I have no ‘like most’ I like it all. Let’s face it sex is yummy.
3.     I see you post a number of gorgeous guys pics on your Facebook page and blog. What part of a man’s body turns you on most?
I like that V shape on a man’s hips, especially when there’s a fine line of hair running down to his … I like shoulders and eyes and stubble and hard asses, then there’s thighs and lips. (Sighs)
4.     What’s your favorite cocktail?
Is that a trick question? I actually don’t drink alcohol. I have allergies and I discovered that alcoholic makes them all worse.
5.     Are you wearing a matching bra and panties right now?
I am. (She laughs) I most often do. I love pretty underwear, lacey stuff, stockings and garter belts. I’m mostly seen in jeans, boots, and leather jackets, but under them is black silk and lace. I read a jokey thing on Facebook that said only in erotic romance is the girl wearing matching bra and panties. I don’t think that’s true.

Rescuing Cade
Cade’s trying to get over a broken heart when his friend Jack takes him off to a nightclub, named only, The Club. Although at first Cade is shocked by the place he meets Marissa. It’s not long before he and Marissa get together, but under the pressure of expectations from, The Club, and Marissa’s fear of commitment, they’re both running in opposite directions.
Gorgeous Cade has touched Marissa’s heart in ways she doesn’t want to admit.
Lovely Marissa has lifted Cade’s sadness and opened his heart to love again. The trouble is—someone has to give a little. Who’s it going to be?
An erotic romance with a sprinkle of vanilla BDSM
I have a hot excerpt for you today.
Marissa found her gaze straying back to Cade.
He stood awkwardly by the table where Jack finger-fucked his current Sub. She laid back with her legs wide apart, her dress up around her waist, and her wrists tied over her head with a blue satin scarf. If she’d worn panties to visit The Club, there was no sign of them now.
Marissa watched the Sub squirm, whimpering for release.
Jack shook his head. “Not yet, sweetheart, I’m enjoying your lovely pussy. Your cream’s running down my palm. I’m going to lick it up and then I’ll think about letting you come. Are you enjoying showing my guest what a good girl you are?”
The Sub murmured, her breath hitching as Jack bent and thrust his tongue into her pussy.
“Yes, sir, it’s exactly how I hoped it would be.”
Marissa’s pussy drenched her panties. She licked her lips.
Cade lurched around and took a step toward her table.
He looked unseeing right into Marissa’s eyes, the expression on his face a glaze of pure confusion, and then he passed by heading to the bar in the corner.
Marissa watched him take a sip of the iced water he’d ordered, then she too got up and walked away from that part of The Club where sex soaked the air with erotic perfume, and the sounds of orgasm played havoc with her own desires.
Copyright Elodie Parkes, Evernight Publishing 2015

Buy the new release:
Add to TBR
Thank you for hosting me with February 12, Evernight Publishing release, Rescuing Cade.
About Elodie:
Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal, fantasy, or suspense. Her books are always steamy. Her tag is, Cool stories: Hot love scenes.
Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.
She has also released titles as an individual indie author.
Find Elodie online: Blog Facebook FB Twitter Tsu

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

FORTUNE BRAWLING. Guitars, Honky Tonk, Etc.

Two Wild Women. One Crazy Honky Tonking Night. 
Coming soon...

FORTUNE BRAWLING The Story of Dallas Fortune.
(The Fortune Series, Story 2)
Hunter S. Jones & Jennifer Theriot
Two guitars. Two wild women. One crazy honky tonking night in Georgia. The Ace is high and the Joker is always wild.
When Texas meets Tennessee the end result spells T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
Guitars. Hillbilly Music.
Nashville, Tennessee. Fortune Brawling is the second story in The Fortune Series. Set in contemporary Nashville and the surrounding rural areas. The series chronicles the life and loves of Dallas Fortune.
Pre-order your copy now! AMAZON universal link: