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When a horse is aristocratic

Ten Days with a Duke Book Cover Ten Days with a Duke
12 Dukes of Christmas
Erica Ridley
Fiction, Romance, Regency
Erica Ridley
November 13, 2020
200

From a New York Times bestselling author: a second chances, enemies-while-lovers reunion romance where nothing is as it first appears, and everyone’s motives are suspect… Olive Harper's family has been feuding with the Westons for decades. The Westons’ stud farm is the biggest, but the Harpers’ is the most famous... and she's the sole heiress. Or was, until her father brokers a truce by offering the Weston heir the Harper farm. The only way to get it back is to marry the knave who kissed her and humiliated her, twice—or prove to her father that some rifts can never be healed. Scholar and botanist Elijah Weston is dreadful at feuding. For one, he prefers horticulture to horses. For two, he's been desperately in love with his mortal enemy ever since he kissed her—and, yes, publicly destroyed her—all those years ago. When he's given ten days to win Olive's heart, he arrives with marriage license in hand. But where lies and double-crosses abound, how can lifelong rivals learn to trust their hearts? The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

So we are back in Cressmouth aka Christmas where we have a horse ranch that that we have we have heard about before as they supply the horses that pulled the sledges up the very steep High Street; and of course Prinnie, the Prince Regent, wanted to buy Duke the amazing stallion who doesn’t like anyone to ride him – apart from one person – that is the person who nursed him through his foal- hood, who bottle fed him and who trained him. Our heroine in other words.

However as we know, in Regency times we have come across this problem before – women cannot inherit or own property  – they need a man, and so it’s necessary for our heroine to find a man. Also her father thought she should be married so that she could then own the horse farm through him, or at least that’s what he told her.

He had long ago had a major argument with his partner which had led to the horse business being split into 2;  one part in Christmas and the other part in London. He now contacted his ex-London partner to facilitate a rapprochement, and suggested that his son might marry our heroine and this is where the Story starts. There is one problem however with the London son – he’s a botanist doesn’t really like horses. He is concerned with a major avenue of research – finding a herbal remedy for when the placenta is retained in childbirth – as this leads to the mother bleeding out – as his own mother had. Of course, this does not please his father, but he continues, and is in need of money to hire the necessary scientists for his project. He thus agrees to woo the heroine in =exchange for funding from his father.

 I’ve looked into some of the plants that are mentioned here in the book to see which ones do have some medicinal impact and some of them certainly do, others are really just decorative. The first one mentioned is nelumbo nucifera also known as the sacred Lotus or Indian Lotus. It is completely edible in all its parts and may be an antidepressant or anti diabetic; the second plant mentioned is olea sylvestris which is in fact the wild olive and as we know olives are very edible indeed. There is a mention of the grass that the horses have in their pasture – phleum pratense,  this is a perennial grass and actually isn’t all that good for horses to eat when it is still green. It is sometimes called cats tail and is especially good when added to hay as it produces fibre and is good for the horses teeth as it is rather tough.

One of the things being researched into are plants that can induce Labour. Sometimes midwives will recommend castor oil or raspberry tea, or blue cohosh tea. However, there are no reliable studies to support that any of them actually work.

There are two orchids that are also mentioned, a Costa Rican orchid also called the Easter orchid –

Cattleya mossiae orchid plant care and culture | Travaldo's blog

– and an epiphytic orchid from the Asian Sub Continent which is miniature and very floriferous called vanda ampullacea.

🌿 Vanda ampullacea, formerly Ascocentrum ampullaceum - Compact Orchid  Species | eBay

This series is fun and the Dukes in question are often unexpected. In this particular book, the Duke is a horse. I always enjoy this writer and is interesting to see that she has brought into the story plants from the part of the world in which she lives – Costa Rica. Which is a wonderful plant friendly  part of the world!

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Make an outfit fit for a Duke?

One Night with a Duke Book Cover One Night with a Duke
12 Dukes of Christmas
Erica Ridley
Fiction, Historical Romance
Erica Ridley
October 9, 2020
200

From a New York Times bestselling author: Sparks fly in this definitely-not-falling-in-love workplace romance between a handsome drifter chasing adventure, and a small-town jeweler who would never leave her home behind… Dashing Scot Jonathan MacLean never returns to the same town twice. The happy-go-lucky philanthropist seeks constant adventure… and is desperate to outrun his past. When a blizzard traps him in a tiny mountaintop village, he meets a woman who tempts him with dreams he'd long since abandoned: Home. Community. Love. But other people’s livelihoods depend on him leaving for good as soon as the snow melts. No-nonsense jeweler Angelica Parker has spent her life fighting for recognition. She's Black, she's a woman, and she will prove her creations are the equal to any artisan in England. With the project of a lifetime on the line, there's no room for error—or distractions. Especially not the handsome charmer whose unquenchable cheer and melting kisses have become more precious than jewels... The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

So here we are again in Christmas village – and we meet the partner – the wordsmith – and financier (part) of our wonderful tailor. The Clawhammer coat, breeches and waistcoat of the gentleman who wants to look like a Duke but only has a working man’s salary.

Jonathan is peripatetic. He sees his job as to promote the various endeavours he has financed from ormulu weaving to tailoring to many other crafts and activities, small and large. And of course, he takes a small percentage of the income in return for lending the start-up funding. It turns out that he is illegitimate and has a trust fund from his father – but his own income is more than sufficient – except for this new concept of the ready-made outfit for men. He is also a great story-teller about his adventures.

He accidentally meets a jeweller. She has her own issues as although she learnt her trade from her father, he didn’t think women should run their own businesses, and then it turns out she is also part African, descended from a freed slave.

There have been Black people living in the UK since Roman times at the very least, and it is thought that we had a Black queen – Queen Charlotte born 1761. By the late 1700s there were around 15,000 Black people known to live in the UK – many were servants and domestic workers, but some were also tradesmen. The abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833 meant that there was no further immigration to boost numbers. Most lived in large ports and centres of population. Unfortunately, race was not commonly recorded in Parish Registers or Censuses, so it is difficult to be accurate about numbers or occupations.

What we do know is that lockets with small portraits and locks of hair were commonly worn and that many were intricately jewelled and decorated.

This is a delightful series of short novels with a mention of a Duke at some point in the storyline, and all set amongst characters we have met in previous stories about this imaginary village.

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Early in the morning I went walking….

Dawn with a Duke Book Cover Dawn with a Duke
12 Dukes of Christmas #9
Erica Ridley
Fiction
Erica Ridley
September 4, 2020
200

From a New York Times bestselling author: Secrets and scandal abound when two delightful, strong-willed opposites are snowbound together in this laugh-out-loud, feel-good romance! As the daughter of a duke, Lady Isabelle’s pristine reputation is paramount. Her high status is how she’ll attract the titled suitor her mother insists she wed. When Belle’s chaperone falls ill en route to a party, she must pose as an independent widow to avoid gossip. Why not have a wee innocent flirtation with a handsome tailor staying at the same inn? She’ll be gone in the morning… A sudden blizzard upends Calvin McAlistair’s plans when he’s snowbound at a posting-house. He has no time to play lady’s maid to the helpless beauty next door, no matter how much he enjoys unbuttoning the straitlaced widow. His future depends on impressing an important investor… who will ruin them both once they realize Calvin has spent a scandalous fortnight with Lady Isabelle! The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes! THE 12 DUKES OF CHRISTMAS: 1. Once Upon a Duke 2. Kiss of a Duke 3. Wish Upon a Duke 4. Never Say Duke 5. Dukes, Actually 6. The Duke's Bride 7. The Duke's Embrace 8. The Duke's Desire 9. Dawn with a Duke 10. One Night with a Duke 11. Ten Days with a Duke 12. Forever Your Duke

Number 9 in the Dukes of Christmas stories / novellas.

As always in this series a very sweet story with a soupcon of feminine issues in the 19th century. Here we are thinking about the fact that women, especially in higher levels of society, were items for sale or barter. They were to do as they were told in all aspects of their life and their husbands, fathers, brothers or other male relatives were their owners. And mothers and older women reinforced this attitude as they had succumbed to it. Women of the higher ranks must never go anywhere without a female companion not be seen alone with a male. And of course the garments that they wore were not designed to be easily put on and off without help. It wasn’t until 1848 that corsets were made with front lacing so that a person could take them off herself. And whilst coats (pelisse)  might have front frogging fasteners, most upper-class dresses were fastened at the back so as not to spoil the line/effect.

Ready to wear clothing of any style and quality were not available, most people mad either own or employed someone to make them for them.

This story looks at how the first manufactured garments began in the nineteenth century and how ready to wear clothes could be made and sold. In fact ready to wear clothing has a much older history than this -The Short History Garment Industry from Bellatory says that ancient Babylonia shipped and distributed some ready-to-wear garments as early as 1400 BCE (BC). In Ancient Rome, garments were produced in workshops of up to 100 workers to outfit the military. But even in the 19th century, whilst ready to wear was still developing, most garments relied on hand stitching and it wasn’t until the late 1800s that factories were supplying large quantities of clothing.

THE 12 DUKES OF CHRISTMAS:

1. Once Upon a Duke

2. Kiss of a Duke

3. Wish Upon a Duke

4. Never Say Duke

5. Dukes, Actually

6. The Duke’s Bride

7. The Duke’s Embrace

8. The Duke’s Desire

9. Dawn with a Duke

10. One Night with a Duke

11. Ten Days with a Duke

12. Forever Your Duke

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Christmas comes again

The Duke's Desire Book Cover The Duke's Desire
12 Dukes of Christmas
by Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction ,Romance
WebMotion
Pub Date 24 Dec 2019

Meg Church adores two things: life in a village of perennial Yuletide, and the freedom of being a spinster with no reputation to protect. Oh, very well, three things: She’s harbored a secret tendre for Christmas curmudgeon Lucien le Duc since the moment she first glimpsed him. But the sexy blacksmith won’t give her the time of day, much less a night of torrid passion.
Ever since Lucien le Duc was forced to flee his beloved France during the revolution, his all-consuming goal has been to recover not only his lost land and fortune, but also his rightful place among the French aristocracy. He would never be distracted by an English dairy maid’s sultry glances… or her soul-consuming kisses… or the temptation to turn one night into forever…
The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

I always read her books as soon as I get hold of them, and then wait anxiously for the next in the series. Now this is book 8 of the 12 Dukes of Christmas.  Annoyingly the remainder of the series are available on Amazon but didn’t some out in NetGalley before Xmas.

How did she count the 12 dukes, well she included the le Duc brothers and this is the story of Luc, the last one in the village to marry or even have a serious relationship. Why? Well he was focused on going home – to France – and getting the family lands, and possibly even a title, back as the Revolution was over. He also therefore refused to speak English. And had developed a rather bad speaking accent and poor vocabulary as a result.

We have another of our feisty and unconventional heroines involved in this story – Meg. Meg was far from an innocent, although her preferred method of birth control was sponges soaked in vinegar and douches. These actually date back a long way – ancient Egyptians also used sponges with either vinegar or lemons in the belief that the acidity will kill sperm. What she didn’t know was that using vinegar could lead to the deterioration of normal vaginal flora, and can irritate the vaginal mucus. Both eventualities heighten the risk of developing infections. However, she was right to some extent, as vinegar can kill sperm, but the sponge would need to be kept inside for quite some time to ensure that no sperm are left in the vagina.

So Meg sets out to seduce Luc before he returns to France, as she has had a crush n him forever.

As always with these series, when an author says ‘I’m going to write 12 books in a very short length of time, the books are short novellas with little character or story development, and this only gets shorter as the series continues. Nonetheless, if you’ve read the previous books, you know the characters involved and the setting so it doesn’t matter so much. And Erica still has a good style of writing and I really liked her making fun of the way 19th century writers wrote torrid sex scenes…

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Meet a Blacksmith from France

The Duke's Embrace Book Cover The Duke's Embrace
12 Dukes of Christmas
by Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction , Romance
WebMotion
Pub Date 3 Dec 2019

Unpaid and under-appreciated journalist Miss Eve Shelling never goes anywhere without a trusty notebook and her overprotective Duenna—who happens to be a bullmastiff. Eve learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted. She’s definitely not falling head-over-heels for the deceptively charming subject of her front-page column. Local blacksmith Monsieur Sébastien le Duc is the pillar of his community—when he’s not pillaging elsewhere. He’s a rakish dandy with a heart of stolen gold and two teeny tiny secrets. One happens to be a wee international smuggling operation. The other involves losing his heart to an ambitious journalist determined to expose the truth at any cost… The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

Another story about Cressmouth in the series of the 12 Dukes. This time we meet Bastien another of the le Duc family.  He and his brother Luc run the Smithy for the town, the only smithy, which means that as they want to return to France and sell the smithy business, property and all apart from the cottage, the town will be without a blacksmith.

Alongside this we have an enterprising yung woman who runs the Cressmouth Chronicle. Her father claims to own it and run it, but a. He took her dowry to finance the purchase of the type and printer, and b. She does all the writing and printing work, he just OKs the content! So much for women’s property rights in this period.

So when she wants to write a juicier story than the usual ‘How wonderful Cressmouth is’ and ‘The town that celebrates Christmas’ etc etc they disagree. Especially when she wants to write about the Frenchmen running the Smithy…

And so a romance ensues.

The usual standard of writing we come to expect from Erica and nice content. Again we growl when we hear about the property rights of men versus women and how women are ‘ruled’ by the men in their family.. and find ourselves grateful that we no longer need a co-sponsor for our mortgages (I did when I was much younger) and that we can vote and run our own businesses.

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