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Hello friend!

I hope this email finds all of you safe and sound, with plenty of provisions for whatever lay ahead. These are scary times. Wash your hands a LOT (for at least 20 seconds!) and self-isolate as much as possible. We need to flatten the curve, as quickly as possible. Books are a great distraction!

And, Love's Sweet Arrow can help! This romance-only bookstore in Chicago is offering two sizes of a Surprise Mystery Box to brighten up your (or a friend's) day. These include books and goodies shipped directly from their store.

In addition to my usual goodies this month, scroll on for a sneak peek at Vanessa Riley's upcoming A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby!

Stay safe! xxoo

This month in Gilded Age history....


This storm, also known as the Great White Hurricane, dumped anywhere from 10" to 58" along the eastern seaboard. Particularly hard hit was New York City, which received 22" of snow in a very short period of time. Gas and electric lines (which were above ground at the time) collapsed, and railroads were shut down.

If you've read MAGNATE, this is the storm that traps Emmett and Lizzie in the East Coast Steel office building for a few days. I set the story in March of 1888 *just* to use this storm as a plot device. :) Video below!

A Special Excerpt!

I'm so excited for this one! Vanessa Riley's new book, A DUKE, THE LADY, and A BABY comes out at the end of June. Want an exclusive excerpt? Read on!

Preorder the book here.

Created by a shrewd countess, The Widow’s Grace is a secret society with a mission: to help ill-treated widows regain their status, their families, and even find true love again—or perhaps for the very first time . . .
When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband's mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune—and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child—until The Widow's Grace gets her hired as her own son’s nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor—and unexpected passion . . .
A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin’s dangerous financial dealings for Lionel’s sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she's breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust—but will it be enough to save the future they long to dare together?


February 1, 1814

London, England

It was a universal truth that no matter her background, face, or charms, a widow in possession of a fortune would be targeted for theft.

In my circumstance, I’d been cheated of everything, even my greatest gift.

Now was the time to defy authority, to strike and win.

I’d almost been caught.

My breath came in waves as I leaned against the closed nursery door. I squeezed my stomach tight, as tight as my shut lashes, and waited for someone to push inside.

So close, only to be captured . . .

My heart ticked, numbering the follies of my life. So full of memories—sliding down a sloping banister, the chatter of silly sisters, a stranger’s whisper at sunset, a blur of signatures on a marriage contract, then a well-written note of love . . . of suicide—my soul was about to explode.

Laughter filtered beneath the door, then the haunting footsteps moved away. Maybe a maid entered a bedroom down the hall. I swallowed the lump building in my throat. The knot of bitterness went down slow. It burned.

This was my house. Those servants once worked for me. Now, I was reduced to sneaking inside Hamlin Hall.

With a shake of my head, I stopped thinking of my failures and focused on my mission, my sole purpose, my Lionel. Feet slipping in my borrowed boots, I tiptoed to his crib and peeked at my baby.

His wide hazel eyes seized me.

Tiny hands lifted, but he made no sound, no cooing or crying. I pacified myself thinking my smart boy didn’t want more trouble dropped on my head, not that he’d learned to soothe himself from neglect.

Pity my heart knew the truth, that Lionel was a prisoner. And these circumstances were my fault. I stole a breath and pinned a smile to my lips. I was grateful to see my boy’s face.

“My little man. Hungry?”

I unbuttoned the placard of my borrowed nankeen shirt, then unwound the bandage I’d wrapped about my bosom. This made my charms appear flat, manlike.

Scooping up Lionel, I put him to my breast. “Hamlin Hall is different tonight, Master Jordan. Is that your doing?”

My little man’s suckle was so strong. Those distant concerns about how often he’d been fed crept forward.

My insides broke into more pieces. “I’m sorry.”

I wasn’t smart, and now my Lionel suffered.

He made an extra slurping noise as if he’d spooned runny porridge.

The funny notion calmed my frets . . . for now. “Tonight, you eat big.”

Our change was in the offing. I felt it. I knew it would be so.

“Your mama’s a spy again. But tonight, I was almost discovered trying to retrieve my trust documents. I had to scurry back to the catacombs, running at top speed through the secret door at the stairs. The old butler was too drunk—”

Something heavy dragged outside in the hall.

The new carpet? It would be ruined.

Hushed whispers bubbled.

Did I hear something about ruin or ripping?

That carpet was imported from the East Indies.

My hands flushed. My cheeks followed.

The fine tapestries of woven rust and gold silks I’d installed to give this two-hundred-year-old house new life would be torn up, discarded . . . like me.

A loud curse soared, then a clear complaint about a guest—a Rep? Reynolds? Remington?—his arrival, the servant said was imminent.

Was this a constable from London?

A magistrate from Bow Street?

Or an administrator from the lunatic asylum?

Any of these men could be coming for me.

I shook from the sole of my boots to the collar of my coarse shirt.

They dragged me, the mistress of Hamlin Hall from this place, from Lionel. My jet bombazine mourning gown, once so proper and refined, was wrinkled and stained as they hauled me away.

The servants and Markham, my late husband’s uncle, said I looked crazed, a yellow-eyed loon. I remember sobbing like a lunatic, but the hope in my heart said, Cooperate, all would be well.

All lies. All tricks. All meant to crush me.

I wasn’t going this time, not without a fight.


Did you know....

This is where I wow you with a tidbit I've picked up in my Gilded Age research. :)

First Automobile Arrest in the U.S. • Newport, RI, 1904

The first automobile arrest was made in Newport, Rhode Island in 1904. The offender was charged with going 15 miles per hour.

Fun Stuff

Famous Museum Tours Online • Stuck at home? Many museums now have online tours you can do right from your couch!

Live Sea Otter Cam • Dying to see some nature and wildlife during your self-isolation? Monterey Bay Aquarium has some great live cams, including my favorite -- the sea otters!

Women Who Were Transportation Pioneers • Did you know a woman invented the windshield wiper? Do you know the name Emily Warren Roebling, who served as the chief engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband fell ill?

Movies to Watch in Honor of Women's History Month • Grab some popcorn and settle in for these female-centric movies all month.

Antiques Roadshow Discovers $16,000 Fortuny Gown • This dress is to DIE for. (FB video link)

Instagram: Historical Home of America • Are you following this IG account full of the most beautiful old homes? (And while you're on Instagram, follow me!)

Join the Romance community and help give back to literacy!

More than 43 million adults in the United States lack basic literacy skills, two thirds of whom are women. Without basic skills, women with low literacy often cannot get good employment, care for themselves and their families, or manage their financial lives.

Join me and the rest of The League of Extraordinary Historical Romance Authors as we raise money to help. All donations welcome!

Recent Reads I Loved

Here are three romances I recently enjoyed:

TEMPORARY WIFE TEMPTATION by Jayci Lee • This is a fantastic debut that features a fake-engagement story—a trope you know that I love!

MESSY by Katie Porter • Aging rock star falls in love with his former band mate's daughter. It's pretty spicy, but I couldn't put it down!

THE DUCHESS IN HIS BED by Lorraine Heath • A club that caters to women's fantasies?? Yes, please. Plus, Lorraine is one of the very best writers around!

Fun Fact About TPoB

So many of you have reached out to tell me how much you LOVED The Prince of Broadway—especially Florence. I'm so thrilled! Florence was a lot of fun to write.

At the end of the book, I thought it was important to talk on the page about Clay and Florence's birth control. This was a hotly contested issue in the Gilded Age, thanks to Comstock Laws that made birth control illegal to buy/sell through the U.S. Mail. Subsequently, rates of STDs and unplanned pregnancy were extremely high. (They didn't recede until WW1, when the gov't gave out condoms to U.S. soldiers.)

But laws never stopped Florence or Clay. :) So, I stumbled across a mention of a "womb veil," which was an early version of a diaphragm/cervical cap. This seemed like something Florence would do: take charge of her own body and her ability to prevent a pregnancy.

No idea if Florence and Clay ever did have children . . .but if they did, I do know that Clay would be the most AMAZING stay-at-home dad.

Listen to a sample of the audiobook
Still haven't read it? Buy the book here

And finally...

Stay fabulous!


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Joanna Shupe

PO Box 513

Plainsboro, NJ 08536