Lord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.
One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…
Gina Conkle writes sensual Georgian romance and lush Viking romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook._ Find her at www.ginaconkle.com.
How to Stock a Kitchen Like a Georgian
England’s flourishing economy under the four King Georges (1714 – 1830) spilled over to the kitchen. Culinary delights were in demand. The number of pastry chefs and confectioners increased by almost 20,000 from the late Georgian period to middle Victorian era.
Recipe books abounded. Inventors tinkered with refrigeration as early as 1755. The first gas stove was developed in the 1820s (and patented in 1826).
Was cooking then the same as now? Yes and no.
Writing Georgian romance takes an author down some interesting paths. One of them has been reading reprints of Georgian era cookbooks and books on the Georgian love affair with fine food. Though 200 or so years have passed, certain gastronomical terms are like a foreign language. On occasion, those old cookbooks need translation, such as these 8 Georgian kitchen necessities:
- Creed is crushed barley.
- Gravy was called “browning” in recipes.
- Strawberries then and now: A Carolina strawberry is the modern-day garden/grocery store strawberry. They are bigger varietals with reddish-pinkish insides (and a little white). The Scarlett strawberry is the “wild” strawberry Georgians enjoyed (domesticated much later). Scarlett berries are smaller, highly seasonal during the Georgian era, and the inner flesh a solid white.
Originally, the French monarchy’s early 18th century hot houses developed the strawberry from a wild varietal for medicinal purposes. Eventually, it’s flavor and visual appeal made it a favorite fruit. Only the very wealthy would have enjoyed hot house strawberries such as my hero, Cyrus Ryland in The Lady Meets Her Match.
- China oranges are called this because oranges first came from China. While many romance novels mention oranges, the fruit during Georgian times was really referred to as China oranges.
- Georgian recipes often called for “anchovy liquor” with meat dishes. The modern-day equivalent would be Worcestershire Sauce.
- Sugar came to most consumers as a loaf. Ships brought sugar cane (stalks) to England. The canes were boiled and the liquid sugar was poured into a clay mold, which made the cone shape once it cooled. Georgian cooks broke off chunks of the sugar with tongs. Double refined sugar was of the highest quality and very white. My heroine, Genevieve in The Lord Meets His Lady, enjoys sugar in her coffee.
- Lisbon sugar was a softer, darker sugar. It was considered inferior to sugar from Jamaica or Barbados. The modern equivalent is our gold or brown sugar.
- Alligar is a mix of ale vinegar and salt.
- A pipkin is an earthenware cooking pot.
- Ambergris (French for grey amber) comes from sperm whales and is used mostly in perfumery. Historically, the substance was used in food and some cultures considered it an aphrodisiac.
In its raw state, the substance is the whale’s digestive secretion. At one time, it was found widely in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. As ambergris ages (read that as exposure to sun, air, and in some instances floating in sea water for months or years), the awful stench changes to a sweet, earthy/ocean scent.
Why ambergris in food? Aside from mystical sensual attributes, the waxy substance mixes well with oils. In perfume, it made the scent linger on a woman’s skin. In foods, it added texture which teased the tongue. Maybe tactile pleasuring of the tongue worked for Georgians? Finer restaurants use ambergris in food and cocktails to this day.
Thanks for taking this journey with me into the fascinating world of Georgian cooking! ~ Gina
She yanked the door wide open, blinking at bright sunlight and an even brighter man.
Her breath caught. “Lord Bowles.”
“Miss Turner, how nice to see you again.” His greeting alone could be a proposition the way his voice caressed her name.
She stood mutely, the floor uncertain beneath her feet. Behind him the Beckworth geese waddled through the yard, their orange beaks poking the ground. The rogue followed her?
Her mind spinning, she blurted, “What are you doing?”
Hazel eyes glinted beneath his black tricorn hat. “I’m standing on your doorstep. Will you let me in?”
“No.” She stuffed the crumpled letter in her pocket. “Mr. Beckworth and his brothers aren’t here. They have business in Learmouth Village.”
Creases deepened at the corners of his friendly eyes. Lord Bowles wasn’t put off. There had to be a social nicety for this, but where she came from, if you didn’t want someone at your door, you told them.
“I know they aren’t.” His voice dropped lower. “I came early to see you.”
What was she supposed to do about this? A polite refusal formed, but his lordship’s vision snagged on her cleavage before popping back up to her face.
A scoundrel always showed his true colors.
She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorjamb, all pretense of a proper servant gone. “And who’d be calling? The honorable vicar?”
Lord Bowles chuckled. “I apologize for the surprise. Mr. Beckworth and I are longtime friends. I started to tell you about the connection when we repaired the coach brace.” He paused and took a measured tone. “But our road side conversation went in a new direction before I had the chance.”
She smarted when he said a new direction, a stinging reminder she’d pleaded with him to hide her true identity…from his friend no less. What a neat bit of trouble this was. Did his lordship think she was here to steal the family silver? A laughable thing since the humble Beckworth cottage had none.
“Then you would be the old army friend coming to dinner,” she said flatly.
“I am. Worse for the wear but not…so old.”
She shoved off the doorjamb, her mind assembling all the pieces. His lordship’s gentle humor was a balm in this clumsy moment. Lord Bowles was tonight’s honored guest and the reason for the small feast she was preparing in the kitchen. She wanted to tell him to come back later, but Mr. Beckworth might take offense if she did. What would a proper housekeeper do? There was also the matter of her character, such as it was. She didn’t want Lord Bowles thinking ill of her.
Mildly chastened, she clasped dough-flecked hands together. “I am not a thief, milord. If that’s your concern, please know I’d never cause harm to Mr. Beckworth or his family.”
“I believe you.”
Never had three words sounded so lovely. They’d rolled off his tongue without a second’s hesitation. She hesitated. Shutting the door on Lord Bowles wouldn’t be wise. Letting him in didn’t work either.
“I knew there was a possibility our paths might cross,” she said, stalling in hopes wisdom would strike.
“And you thought I’d pretend we’d met for the first time should we be introduced in the village.”
Lord Bowles nodded, hands clasped behind his back. “While I don’t believe you’re out to harm Mr. Beckworth, this still makes me complicit in your deception…against my friend.”
Her status hung in the balance. Did he have concerns about her circumstances? Or was he in search of a dalliance? Power was his.
“Does that mean you’ll not mention my real name or The Golden Goose to Mr. Beckworth?”
“I already gave my word.” He flashed a disarming smile. “Now will you let me in?”
She was doomed. Lord Bowles was trouble on two legs. He knew how to open doors with his smile alone. A sculpted lower lip balanced his thinner upper lip, a scale of sensuality and wit. Her solitude and better judgement were about to be breached by a consummate flirt wielding his version of honor. Men were by no means a novelty. She was skilled at brushing them off or being unnoticed when the mood struck, but she’d have to face facts.
London allowed obscurity. Cornhill-on-Tweed would not.
“No harm in showing you to the parlor. Mr. Beckworth and his brothers should return within an hour.”
He stepped inside and passed his hat to her, sunshine crowning his chestnut-colored hair. “Any chance you’ll sit with me awhile?” He stretched free of his black redingote, the collar brushing curls at his nape.
“None. I clean the parlor, milord I don’t sit in it.”
He laughed at her bald rejection, and a single lock slipped free of his queue’s black ribbon. The curl hid behind his ear, the strands a sun-kissed contrast to the rest of his brown hair. The vulnerable lock of hair begged to be neatened. She hung his hat and coat on pegs, glad for her hands to have something to do. Lord Bowles stood less than an arm’s length from her at the cross roads of proper and intimate, a winsome smile on his face.
And her wish to be a respectable domestic slipped a notch.