For my fifth book for the Harlequin Love Inspired line, my intrepid heroine procures a copy of a household management book originally published in England. The inspiration for my heroine’s book is Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management – which is still available today. Mrs. Beeton was only twenty-one years old when she began a series of installments for The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. Her installments were later combined into a book.
While not well known in America, Mrs. Beeton is an iconic figure in England. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mentioned Mrs. Beeton in one his novels. Downton Abbey has used the book for reference. The actual book has only 23 pages or so dedicated to household management. The other 900 pages feature recipes–all of which Mrs. Beeton tested. Many of which she disliked!
Mrs. Beeton’s life was as fascinating as her book. She bore four sons, only two of whom lived into adulthood. Her husband was a publisher, and gave his wife her start. She died of a fever after the birth of her fourth son at the age of 28. There is speculation that her husband had given her syphilis, leading to the deaths of their first two infants. Though editors never denied her young age, they were perfectly content to let the public believe Mrs. Beeton was beloved mob-capped grandmotherly type.
Before the book was published, recipes were written in conversational tone, which meant the ingredient list was peppered throughout the directions. Mrs. Beeton separated out the ingredients, a practice that is still used in cookbooks today. Almost all of the recipes were taken from previous publications, which touched off a controversy- even though Mrs. Beeton never claimed the recipes were original.
Mrs. Beeton’s husband never received the success his wife had achieved. He sold off the rights to her book to avoid bankruptcy, and died twelve years after his wife. The iconic phrase, “First, catch your hare” has been attributed to the book, though the phrase had been around long before.
The book I’ve created for my heroine is inspired by Mrs. Beeton’s book, and I plan to feature the ‘author’ as the heroine in a subsequent book. (Think, “Christmas in Connecticut.”) This week I’m writing the scene where my lovely heroine must…you guessed it….must first catch her hare!
Nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Cattleman Meets His Match:
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Cowboy John Elder needs a replacement crew of cattle hands to drive his longhorns to Kansas—he just never figured they’d be wearing petticoats. Traveling with Moira O’Mara and the orphan girls in her care is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Yet despite Moira’s declaration of independence, the feisty beauty evokes John’s every masculine instinct to protect, defend…marry?
Moira is grateful for John’s help when he rescues her—and she can’t deny that his calm, in-control manner proves comforting. But she is determined not to let anything get in the way of her plans to search for her long-lost brother at journey’s end. However, can John show her a new future—one perfect for them to share?
Coming in February!!
Rock-solid and reliable, confirmed bachelor Caleb McCoy thought nothing could rattle him, until he discovers he needs to pose as Anna Bishop’s intended groom. After saving her life, his honorable code bid Caleb watch over the innocent beauty. And a pretend engagement is the only way to protect her from further harm.
Raised by a single mother and suffragist, Anna doesn’t think much of marriage, and she certainly doesn’t plan to try it herself. But playing Caleb’s blushing bride-to-be makes her rethink her independent ways, because their make-believe romance is becoming far too real.