Renee’s Winner…



and don’t forget the winner of Renee’s last post…


Email your snail mail address to Renee at

Congrats Image

Fast Facts: The Gay Nineties!



Renee Ryan, here, still fighting a really tight dealine so we’re back to the FastFacts blog. Today, in honor of my current manuscript (set in the 1890s), I’ve decided to give some quick facts about the decade known as The Gay Nineties.



  • Top Ten Popular Boy Names: John, William, James, George, Charles, Joseph, Frank, Robert, Edward, Henry
  • Top Ten Popular Girl Names: Mary, Anna, Margaret, Helen, Elizabeth, Ruth, Florence, Ethel, Emma, Marie
  • Top Inventions of the Decade: Stop Sign, Tabulating Machine, Shredded Wheat, Ferris Wheel, Bottle Cap, Medical Glove, Candy Corn, Volleyball (the game), Zipper, Mouse Trap
  • The Suffragette Movement began in earnest
  • X-rays were discovered
  • Helium was discovered

In Fiction: The first Sherlock Holmes mystery was published








Also, in fiction: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray









Finally, the first modern Olympic Games were held April 6, 1896 in Athens, Greece

Olympic stadium


Leave a comment and I’ll put your name in a drawing to win my September release, HIS MOST SUITABLE BRIDE.

FAST FACTS about Conrad Hilton…

Conrad Hilton 2It’s me again, Renee Ryan.  I finished my latest book and hit the deadline, barely.  That means I’m starting the next book this week.  It’s Book Nine (9!) in my Charity House series.  More importantly, it’s the final book in the series.  That’s right.  I’ll be wrapping up the series in a few months.  Book 9 (title still in the works) will be a July 2015 release.  Not only will this book end the Charity House series, it will launch my next historical series.  I’m looking forward to bringing back many characters.  Think of this as a reboot.  Fun, right?

Anyway, when last I blogged I introduced you to the hotelier Conrad Hilton because he is the model (of sorts) for the hero of the book I’ve been talking about today.  I gave you some Fast Facts on Conrad, with the promise of more detail about how he got into the hotel business.

Since I’m back on deadline, with an even shorter delivery date than last time, I’m going to continue with my Fast Facts format.   You’ll probably see this format a lot in the coming months.  So, here we go.  Fast Facts on Conrad Hilton’s business experience and entrance into the hotel industry!1_conrad_hilton

  • Conrad received his entrepreneurial mentality from his father, who owned a general store in Socorro, New Mexico
  • In his early twenties, he became a Republican representative in the first New Mexico State Legislature, just after the state was formed
  • He made the decision to become a banker during his stint with other like-minded men he worked with in the legislature
  • He moved to Texas during the oil boom in 1919 with the intention of buying a bank
  • When the sale of the bank fell through, he bought his first hotel in Cisco, Texas—the 40-room Mobley Hotel
  • This first venture into the hotel industry was so successful he converted the dining room into additional hotel rooms to meet the demand
  • He went on to buy more hotels throughout Texas, including the following:
              The Dallas Hilton, opened in 1925   
              The Abilene Hilton, opened in 1927 
              The Waco Hilton, opened in 1928 
              The El Paso Hilton, opened in 1930
  • He built his first hotel outside of Texas in Albuquerque, New Mexico, opened in 1939
  • During the 1940s, he expanded west to California and east to New York and Chicago.  His purchases included the Waldorf-Astoria in New York
  • In 1946, he formed the Hilton Hotels Corporation and, in 1948, he formed the Hilton International Corporation
  • His was the first international hotel chain

What a fascinating man, right?  In honor of my beginning the last Charity House book I’m giving away a copy of Book Eight, HIS MOST SUITABLE BRIDE, or any book from my back list if you already have the book.   All you have to do is leave a comment to be included in the drawing.




The Story of a Famous Hotelier…

Renee Ryan here and I have an apology to make.  The last time I blogged I announced the winner of a copy of one of my books.  Unfortunately, the post got lost in cyber space due to a problem with our site.  So…I plan to make up the oversight here today.  You have to read to the end of the blog to see what I have in mind.

I’m working on my next book.  It’s Book 9 (and the final book) in my Charity House.  The book is set in the 1890s in Denver, Colorado.  The hero is one of the first “orphans” to live at Charity House.   Jonathon (formerly Johnny) Hawkins is all grown up and has made good.  In fact, he owns a chain of hotels across the United States.  When I first started thinking about what my all-grown-up Johnny was like I did what I always I do.   I researched.  When I came across Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton Hotel chains, I knew I’d met the model for Jonathon.

Conrad Hilton 2
Conrad Hilton as a young man
Later in life








If I shared everything I learned about Connie here today this blog post would be several pages long.  Instead of overwhelming you, here are a few of the more interesting Fast Facts about this incredibly interesting man.

  • Conrad Hilton founded the Hilton Hotel chains
  • He was born on Christmas day in 1887
  • He died January 3, 1979
  • He was born in San Antonio, New Mexico Territory
  • He had 8 siblings
  • His father, Augustus Halvorsen Hilton, was an immigrant from Norway
  • His mother, Mary Genevieve, was a Catholic American of German descent
  • He was married three times, most notably to Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • He had a degree in mining from New Mexico Military Institute
  • He was a great philanthropist, which was influenced by his strong Catholic beliefs
  • His mother taught him that prayer was the best investment he could ever make
  • He fought in WWI
  • He built his first hotel in 1925, the Dallas Hotel
  • His great granddaughters are Paris and Nikki Hilton

I could go on, but I’ll save “how” he built his empire for another blog post.  Leave a comment and I’ll put in a drawing to receive a copy of my September release, HIS MOST SUITABLE BRIDE, where Jonathon has a strong secondary role.


Now, about my last post…

Because of the confusion due to site issues, I’ve decided to give the following people a copy of my September release, or any book from my backlist they choose.  Britney Adams, Cindy Wodard, Colleen, Connie J, Cori and Lori…email me your snail mail address and book preference at  and I’ll get the book to you as soon as I can.



What I know about Opera

Opera house
It’s me, Renee Ryan, and I’m sorry to say my head is a bit jumbled today.  I have a book due in two weeks and still 13,000 words to write.  This is not good.  So not good.


I’m not here to whine about m deadline.  No, seriously. The end is in sight.  I’m really looking forward to finishing up the story, which then means I’ll be starting on my next book.  Ah, the glamorous life of a writer.

With my head buried in writer-mode, I’ve had to do some last minute research.  I left my hero and heroine at the opera together.  Since I know so very little about opera I had to spend much of yesterday delving into the exciting world of drama set to incredible music.

Here’s what I discovered.

Opera, put simply, is an art form in which singers and musicians work together to perform a dramatic story set to a musical score.  Duh, right?  In other words, opera is a form of musical theater in that it has all the common elements of acting, scenery, elaborate costumes and dance.  The modern opera incorporates full orchestras, but this wasn’t always true in its earliest form.  Often, singers performed with no musical accompaniment or very little.  I’m thinking of the movie Pitch Perfect (if you haven’t seen it, you MUST).

I digress.Opera house 1

Opera was born in Italy at the end of the 16th century.  Although England, Germany, and France soon developed their own traditions, Italian opera dominated most of Europe for centuries after its birth.  Even Mozart, probably the most renowned opera composer and an Austrian, is famous for his Italian comic operas, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.

The words that are sung in an opera are called libretto.  Some composers often write both the music and the libretto.  Mozart was not one of them.  However, he did work closely with his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte.  Traditional operas consist of two types of music/singing—the passage that drives the plot, and the aria, where the singer gets to express the character’s emotional reaction to an event in the storyline.  My heroine loves arias. My hero, not so much.

sheet-musicThe “golden age” of opera was the 19th century.  And I bet that’s all you ever wanted to know about opera.  I’ll probably never make it to the Met, but one of these days I plan to watch a performance at my local movie theater that often shows a performance on the big screen.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Since I have several books with scenes at opera houses, leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of LOVING BELLA, FINALLY A BRIDE or my upcoming release HIS MOST SUITABLE BRIDE.

Women’s Clothing in the 1890s

Fanny fashionRenee Ryan here, ready to share more research I’ve uncovered while working on my latest Charity House novel. The book is set in 1896 and despite how much I’d rather dig into the story I must dress my heroine. She is a fashionable woman of her time, so it’s important I get her clothing right.

Fashionable styles of the 1890s finally (and I do mean FINALLY) shed the excesses of previous decades. Crinolines were out, as were protruding bustles in the back. Unfortunately (and I do mean UNFORTUNATELY) corseting continued. Early dresses in the 1890s consisted of very tight bodices. The skirts were gathered at the waist and fell more naturally over the hips. By the mid-1890s leg o’mutton sleeves made their entrance, but by the late 1890s tighter sleeves returned with small ruffles capping the shoulders. Skirts took on an A-line silhouette. 

Sportswear became popular in the 1890s due to changing attitudes about acceptable activities for women. The shirtwaist dress that included a bodice tailored like a man’s shirt was adopted for informal wear and became the uniform for working women.



Afternoon dresses had high necks, wasp waists, puffed sleeves and bell-shaped skirts. Evening gowns sported a square decolletage and skirts with long trim.

Fanny Fashion 3





In short, the 1890s introduced unfussy, tailored women’s clothing. The key element was simplicity, well…at least simplicity in terms of pervious decades of the nineteenth century.




My next blog will include hairstyles, headgear (aka hats) and shoes. In the meantime, leave a comment and you’ll be included in a drawing to win Mistaken Bride, a book in my backlist with a most beautiful dress.

Mistaken Bride

Researching…Hotels, Denver, and all things Charity House

Brown Palace 2 Renee Ryan here for Winnie Griggs, who ever-so-graciously took over my day last week when my plane was diverted due to bad weather, and…way too long of a story for today.


I’m starting a new book today, Book 9 in my Charity House series.  The hero, Jonathon Hawkins, was one of the first “orphans” at Charity House, a home for prostitutes’ by-blows.  He spent the first twelve years living with his mother in various saloons, then a brothel, before Laney Dupree offered him a home at her baby farm, aka Charity House.  Despite his questionable upbringing, and the fact that his real father refuses to acknowledge him, Jonathon has made a success of his life.  After winning his fortune at the gaming tables, he’s gone legitimate.  He owns several upscale hotels in major US cities, including Denver.  I modeled his Denver hotel after one of the most historic hotels in the country, the Brown Palace in Denver.


The Brown Palace was one of the first atrium-style hotels ever built.  Made from sandstone and red granite, construction was completed in 1892.  Its distinctive shape (a triangle instead of the usual square or rectangle) was created by architect Frank Edbrooke.   He also designed the Denver Dry Goods Company Building, Central Presbyterian Church, and the Temple Emanuel.


The Brown Palace Hotel is still in operation today.  It’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is a favorite stop for afternoon team.  If you’re looking for a pot of properly brewed English tea and scones served with Devonshire cream and preserves the Brown Palace Hotel is a must see.  The hotel is also known for its marble bar.

Molly BrownIf you do make a trip to Denver and book a room in the Brown Palace Hotel you will stay in the same hotel as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown, The Beatles, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bill Clinton.


Have you read any of my Charity House books?  If so, which one, or ones? Leave a comment and your name will be put in a drawing for a book from Renee’s backlist.