30 September 2010

Excerpt Thursday: Zoe Archer

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're featuring Unusual Historicals contributor and Kensington author ZOE ARCHER as she celebrates the release of the first two books in her Victorian "BLADES OF THE ROSE" series. Last month saw its launch with the Mongolia-set WARRIOR, and the series continues in October with SCOUNDREL, which takes place in Greece. Join us on Sunday when Zoe will be here to answer questions and give away goodies! Here's the blurb for SCOUNDREL:

The Blades of the Rose are sworn to protect the sources of magic in the world. But the work is dangerous--and they can't always protect their own...

READY FOR ACTION...

London Harcourt's father is bent on subjugating the world's magic to British rule. But since London is a mere female, he hasn't bothered to tell her so. He's said only that he's leading a voyage to the Greek isles. No matter, after a smothering marriage and three years of straitlaced widowhood, London jumps at the opportunity--unfortunately, right into the arms of Bennett Day.

RISKING IT ALL...

Bennett is a ladies' man, when he's not dodging lethal attacks to protect the powers of the ancients from men like London's father. Sometimes, he's a ladies' man even when he is dodging them. But the minute he sees London he knows she will require his full attention. The woman is lovely, brilliant, and the only known speaker of a dialect of ancient Greek that holds the key to calling down the wrath of the gods. Bennett will be risking his life again--but around London, what really worries him is the danger to his heart...
***

Publishers Weekly selected SCOUNDREL as a Pick of the Week!

"Archer follows 2010's WARRIOR with another delightful tale of an intelligent, competent woman sharing adventure and romance with a formidable partner... London's personal growth paces the adventure story beautifully, and readers will cheer for both the romance and the Blades." ~ Publishers Weekly

***

"How did you know I was from England?" she asked. "The vendor was speaking English to everyone."

"Your posture. English ladies have a particular way of holding themselves, as though a disapproving governess was glaring at them."

"Different than, say, a French or Greek lady?"

"There's bundles more self-imposed Anglican morality in an Englishwoman's stance. I am," he added, with a slow, suggestive smile, "an avid connoisseur of the language of the body."

"Of that, I have no doubt," she said, dry.

His chuckle was low and velvet and very, very carnal. If he was unleashed on polite British society, virgin debutantes and genteel matrons would turn into Bacchae, tearing at their clothes and ripping apart anyone foolish enough to stand between themselves and the object of their desire. She felt much the same uncharacteristic urge.

London busied herself with pretending to admire a gold silk scarf at a booth. As she did this, she sent a cautious glance towards the beautiful English stranger. With a small, internal start, she realized that his stance only appeared to be negligent and easy. He was, in fact, vigilant, ready as if poised for movement. And his eyes, though glittering with a secret amusement, were never at rest. He watched the marketplace, keen as a blade. He was looking for someone.

But who? She dare not ask such an impertinent question, and didn't know if she wanted the answer. There was something, the edge of a darkness, in him, or, at the least, a potential for danger. She wondered if he was armed. Travelers to Greece were advised to bring at least a revolver if they planned on leaving Athens. But this man's strong body would be weapon enough.

"Is it within the rules to ask what brings you to Greece?" London asked.

"Never said there were any rules." A small dimple appeared in the corner of his mouth. London wanted to touch it. Or, better yet, feel it with her lips.

"If there were," she said, "you don't play by them."

He gave an unapologetic shrug. "Following rules means there's no fun or pleasure in life."

She was certain he had both in abundance. "And decorum? Responsibility?"

"Decorum stifles. Women, especially."

London picked up the scarf and draped it around her shoulders, as a lady might at the ballet. "That sounds like a libertine's well-practiced speech to lure women into dalliance."

"There's always truth in seduction. That's why it works." He stepped closer and loosened the scarf from her shoulders, then he gently wrapped it around her waist like a sash. She felt it like an embrace. His deft, long fingers tied the fabric into a decorative knot. "Much better. More Greek," he murmured in approval.

London's pulse sped at his nearness, yet she did not step away. "But what of responsibility?"

He gazed at her levelly, and in his clear aquatic eyes, she saw a steadiness of purpose that she had not anticipated. "I take my responsibilities seriously."

"They must be the only things you take seriously," she answered.

No mistaking the way he looked at her, how his gaze flicked down to her mouth and held there for more than a moment. "Try me, little troublemaker."

She felt herself standing above the sea, the warm water beckoning her to plunge into its wet, welcoming depths, frolic in its waves. She wanted to jump. She was afraid of the height. "Sir, you are more dangerous than Barbary pirate," she said, after a breathless pause.

Again, he laughed, something he seemed to do readily. A bedroom laugh. Teasing. Intimate. And such a laugh made her body respond without thought. Her skin felt sensitive and a molten heat gathered in her core. Oh, it had been a long time since a man touched her, and not a single, half-hearted caress from Lawrence affected her as one laugh from this stranger did. She recalled how, moments earlier, his fingers had brushed her hand, and the strange, intense response even that minor contact had engendered.

"Know many Barbary pirates?" he asked, one eyebrow raised.

"I do, now."

It was then that she realized something. All this time, he had been speaking to her as his equal. Granted, he was a devil of a flirt, but he did not seem to consider her female sex a liability. He talked truthfully, openly, without the polite phrases or evasions so common to the speech of every other man she knew. And when she answered him, it was as if she'd unlatched a little door inside herself and could meet him on the level ground, confident in herself.

"I think you are the dangerous one," he said, "but you don't know it yet."

Again, their eyes caught and held. No, she was not imagining it. Something hot and knowing in their shared look. And that other thing, that tie that bound them in ways she did not understand.

29 September 2010

Women Did It Better: Nellie Bly

By Elizabeth Lane

The crusading journalist known as Nellie Bly was a real-life heroine in every sense of the word. Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864, she was the third child of a wealthy Pennsylvania judge and his second wife. She was raised in comfort until the age of six, when her father died. Unfortunately he left no will providing for his second family. Elizabeth's mother and her five children were thrown into poverty.

In desperation, her mother married an alcoholic who abused her. When she later filed for divorce, Elizabeth testified at the trial. At fifteen, Elizabeth entered normal school, hoping to become a teacher and support her mother. But with her family so poor, she was only able to attend one semester. She then moved to Pittsburgh with her mother. For seven years she helped run a boarding house, taking other work when she could find it. She dreamed of becoming a writer.

That dream came true when she read a series of columns in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, from a popular writer who wrote that women belonged at home doing domestic tasks and called the working woman "a monstrosity." Elizabeth's spirited rebuttal about the plight of women and girls who had to work so impressed the paper that they hired her and gave her the pen name "Nellie Bly" after the Stephen Foster song. Her first story was about poor working girls. Her second called for a reform of the state's divorce laws. The paper, however, wanted to confine her to the women's page, writing about social events and fashion. Bly convinced the editors to let her be a foreign correspondent in Mexico, where she sent back stories about the lives of the Mexican people. On her return, however, she was again confined to the women's page. That was too much. Nellie quit and struck out for New York.

After knocking on doors for six months, she talked her way into the office of the New York World. The editor, possibly to brush her off, challenged her to write a story about the patients housed in a New York mental institution. Impersonating a mad person, Nellie came back from Blackwell's island ten days later with stories of beatings, ice cold baths and forced meals that included rancid butter. Her story stirred the public and politicians and brought money and needed reforms to the institution. At the age of 23, Nellie Bly had begun to pioneer a new kind of investigative journalism.

In the years that followed, she exposed corruption and injustice, always taking the side of the downtrodden. Her fame also opened the doors of the rich and famous, and she profiled many celebrities of her time. The peak of her fame came when she took a whirlwind trip around the world in 1889 to beat Phileas Fogg, the fictional hero of Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days." Traveling by ship, train and Burro, she made it back to New York in a little over 72 days, cheered by huge crowds.

At the age of 30 Nellie Bly married a 70-year-old industrialist named Robert Seaman. After his death ten years later she ran his business until it went bankrupt. Then she turned back to reporting. Picking up where she left off, she championed worthy causes, including finding homes for abandoned children. She died from pneumonia in 1922, at the age of 57, after a life that would rival any work of fiction.

28 September 2010

Women Did It Better: Elizabeth Blackwell

By Jennifer Linforth

Elizabeth Blackwell listened.

She possessed the trait of a good doctor from the start, before ever entering medicine. When a dying friend said her worst suffering would have been spared had her doctors been female--Elizabeth Blackwell took that to heart...and all the way to a medical degree.

Graduating from Geneva Medical College in New York in 1849, Blackwell became the first American woman to earn a medical degree. By 1857 she established the New York Infirmary and helped foster medical education for women.

She started out having no idea how to become a doctor. It was just not done for woman of her era. She turned to several physicians associated with her family who warned her it simply was not done, it was too expensive and, frankly, impossible for a woman.

Blackwell felt otherwise.

Convincing two physicians to allow her to essentially apprentice under them for a year, reading all she could of medicine, she applied to schools in New York and Philadelphia. Twelve schools later she was accepted—as a joke--into Geneva Medical College. The faculty allowed the student body to vote her in. The all male class agreed as a jest, assuming she would never succeed.

Two years later, she became the first woman to receive an MD. Blackwell worked in clinics in the State and abroad but contracted purulent ophthalmia from a patient. She returned to New York in 1851 when it caused her to lose her sight in one eye, thus forcing her to give up her dream of becoming a surgeon.

She went on to open her own dispensary and saw patients three afternoons a week. She wrote several books on medical reform, and in 1854 opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. This medical college for women was opened in 1867 and provided training and experience for women doctors. She continued to campaign for reform after her health declined and she gave up the practice of medicine in the late 1870s.

27 September 2010

Women Did It Better: The Bayeux Tapestry

By Lindsay Townsend

Men fought and died in England in the battle of Hastings in 1066. The kingdom and crown passed to a foreigner, William of Normandy.

This event is recorded in spectacular detail by the Bayeux Tapestry, made by women. There are only a few women shown on the tapestry in this story of feudal rights and obligations, claims, counter-claims and war, but scholars now agree that women made it.

The 'tapestry' is in fact an embroidery, done on strips of linen joined together to form a huge running narrative of the events leading up to and beyond the decisive battle. The seven joints are done with great skill and are almost invisible. At one time the tapestry was even longer, but the end is now damaged and incomplete. However the rest is a stunning, detailed account, a unique primary source.

Who were the women who embroidered this massive tapestry? Evidence suggests they were English. Earlier French tradition claimed the tapestry had been embroidered by William's wife Matilda, but what seems increasingly likely is that the piece was made in England as a gift for the new queen.

English female embroiderers were famous throughout Europe for their wall-hangings and church garments. Earlier English queens, such as Edith, were acclaimed for their skill as embroiders. A wall hanging made by English embroiders, showing the defeat of the English at the battle of Maldon in 991, was given to the monastery at Ely by the defeated leader's widow, Aelflaed, as a memorial to the English dead.

The Bayeux Tapestry may have partly served as a memorial to the English dead and have even been stitched by some English widows at either Winchester, the seat of the court and government in Anglo-Saxon England, or Canterbury, or the nunnery at the Minster in Sheppey in Kent--all famed centres of English embroidery. In some cases we may even know their names, such as the woman Leofgeat, who in 1086 in the Domesday Book is described as doing gold embroidery for the king.

Gold was not used in the Bayeux Tapestry, but wool thread dyed sage green, blue-green, red, buff and blue were stitched on the linen using an outline and stem stitch, then laid and couched stitches, making the whole stand out in low relief, like a sculptor's frieze. The figures are active and the tumult of the battle is shown. The English warriors with their moustaches and longer hair are picked out, and the Normans with their cropped locks, and several of the key moments of 1066 are there: Halley's comet, as a harbinger of trouble; William, lifting up his helmet to reveal his face and prove he's still alive; and the climax of the battle, where Harold is felled by the arrow.

A woman is also behind a faithful facsimile of the tapestry. In 1885 Elizabeth Wardle saw the original at Bayeux and, along with 35 other women, was inspired to produce a copy, to be housed in England. This is now kept at the museum in Reading, England.

26 September 2010

FORBIDDEN Winner!

We have a winner for CHRISTINA PHILLIPS' FORBIDDEN guest blog. A free copy of goes to:

STEPHANIE!

Contact Carrie to provide your mailing address. The book must be claimed by next Sunday or another winner will be drawn. Please stop back later to let us know what you thought! Congratulations!

Guest Author: Sarah Parr

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're welcoming back Kensington author SARAH PARR as she celebrates the release of her second 18th century historical romance, HIS FOR THE TAKING. This sensuous pirate adventure travels from England all the way to Bermuda, where Sarah once lived. She'll be here on Sunday to answer questions and give away a signed copy. Join us then!

Persuasion Always Wins...

On a mission to investigate treason, Privateer Marquis Warrick Barry believes he'll have no trouble getting the information he seeks from Karly Bane--the dark-haired beauty the Crown has ordered him to marry. But none of Warrick's tactics work. Unable to deny the hunger the fiery temptress elicits in him, Warrick realizes he must use seduction to persuade his new wife to trust him--both in and out of the bedroom.

When Passion Is the Prize...

As the daughter of a pirate, Karly knows she has nothing in common with the aristocratic Warrick--except an overwhelming mutual attraction. And though Warrick's intentions appear honorable, Karly cannot bring herself to reveal her closely guarded secrets. But when danger threatens to tear them apart, she must decide if she can share herself fully with the man who is now her husband--and if she wants a love that can last forever...
***

"Sarah Parr pens a wonderful tale that is both sparkling and fresh." ~ Coffee Time Romance

"Parr's debut is a wild ride of an adventure." ~ RT Book Reviews on RENEGADE

***

Why did you choose England and Bermuda for HIS FOR THE TAKING?

It was a natural fit. Heavily fortified by reefs and forts, Bermuda was home to both British pirates and privateers. For years they preyed on French and Spanish ships. Plots and plans to capture Bermuda were made but never carried out. I actually lived there for several years and was able to do my research first hand.

Did you live in England as well?

I've lived all over thanks to a restless father who worked in marketing and travel. It meant a lot of packing, but looking back it was worth it.

How do you get your ideas?

Usually when one thought crashes into another. HIS FOR THE TAKING began with a pirate and their nemesis. From there I began to play, adding Bermuda and the history of an area called The Flatts, notorious for smugglers in the day. The story grew from there, a natural sequel to my debut, RENEGADE.

What's next for you?

I have a lot going on in 2011. I just joined Twitter where I post updates, information on "Easter eggs" within the books, answer questions, and provide information on new releases. I also keep a Facebook page. In 2011 I have a couple historical romances in the works and will post more as soon as it is available.

***

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! Readers, if you would like a signed copy of HIS FOR THE TAKING, leave a comment or question. Do you dig pirates? How about the idea of an exotic Bermuda setting. Personally I'd love to hear more about Sarah's adventures in living there. Leave a comment or question for you chance to win. I'll draw a winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!

24 September 2010

Weekly Announcements - 24 Sept 2010

The fifth and final new addition to our roll of contributors is Harlequin Spice author AMANDA McINTYRE. Welcome! Amanda's work includes THE DIARY OF COZETTE, set in Victorian England, which released as one of eHarlequin's top ten bestsellers. TORTURED takes place in Britannia in 500 A.D. and was voted one of the Top Ten Best Erotic Fiction Reads at eHarlequin. Her novella "Winter Awakening" in WINTER'S DESIRE, takes place in 1119 Wales, and her latest, THE MASTER & THE MUSES returns to Victorian England. It was awarded 4.5 Stars from RT Book Reviews, which wrote, "At the center of this unique story is an irresistible hero, Thomas Rodin. Complicated and charismatic, he's matched by his muses in complexity, making THE MASTER & THE MUSES a very special reading experience." Here's the blurb:
Icon, rebel, unabashed romantic...with a single look painter Thomas Rodin conveys the ecstasy of creativity--the pleasures awaiting the woman who can fuel his artistry.

The Innocent: What did this master artist see in me? Genius abided in his soul, rapture in his flesh--I doubted not. To refuse him...my folly. To surrender...my sensual salvation.

The Upstart: I chafed at the bonds of servitude until he set me free. I turned my back on all that I knew to follow him and found myself between two men--master and student--one whom I loved with my heart...the other with my body.

The Courtesan: I understood, perhaps better than any, his needs. I stoked the fires of his soul, the spark of his creativity--he made me a legend. But never could I forget his searing touch...

Three transcendent tales of women bewitched by a master of seduction--a slave as much to his art as to his boundless passion.
Here's a little more about Amanda:
From her early days of reading Vampirella and Hitchcock, to writing a Fine Arts column supporting music education, Amanda McIntyre's zest for experiencing life has provided fertile ground for her creative story ideas resulting in a number of published works in contemporary, paranormal and historical women's fiction. Preferring the title 'storyteller' to 'author,' Amanda loves to challenge her characters and her readers to look beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary, where anything is possible! Amanda lives with her never-a-dull-moment family in the Midwest. Even better than researching history, she enjoys visiting with her readers!
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MICHELLE STYLES is pleased that her IMPOVERISHED MISS, CONVENIENT WIFE will be released in Italy in October with the title Notte di Nozze. You can purchase it here.

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One of our new contributors, STEPHANIE DRAY, was featured on Dear Author, telling her first sale story. Check out how she made her big break, and learn more about her alter-ego, Stephanie Draven.

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CARRIE LOFTY was recently mentioned on All About Romance in Lynn Spencer's recent article about sibling relationships in romance, which cited the tense and rocky dynamic between the sisters in WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS and SCOUNDREL'S KISS as being particularly emotional. What a nice surprise!

***

Join us Sunday when Kensington author SARAH PARR will be here to chat about her 18th c. pirate adventure romance HIS FOR THE TAKING. She'll also be giving away a copy to one lucky commenter! Be sure to join us then.

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We'll also draw the winner of CHRISTINA PHILLIPS' FORBIDDEN guest appearance on Sunday. You still have time to leave a comment or question for your chance to win.

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Stay with us through the coming weeks when we'll be featuring the best unusual historical authors! Zoe Archer, Jeannie Lin, Renee Ryan, and Beth Trissel will be our guests. Join us!

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Have a good weekend! Remember, you don't have to be an Unusual Historicals contributor to submit good news to the weekend announcements. If it has to do with unusual historicals, we'd love to shout it out to the world! Send announcements to Carrie. See you next week...

23 September 2010

Excerpt Thursday: Sarah Parr

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're welcoming back Kensington author SARAH PARR as she celebrates the release of her second 18th century historical romance, HIS FOR THE TAKING. This sensuous pirate adventure travels from England all the way to Bermuda, where Sarah once lived. She'll be here on Sunday to answer questions and give away a signed copy. Join us then!

Persuasion Always Wins...

On a mission to investigate treason, Privateer Marquis Warrick Barry believes he'll have no trouble getting the information he seeks from Karly Bane--the dark-haired beauty the Crown has ordered him to marry. But none of Warrick's tactics work. Unable to deny the hunger the fiery temptress elicits in him, Warrick realizes he must use seduction to persuade his new wife to trust him--both in and out of the bedroom.

When Passion Is the Prize...

As the daughter of a pirate, Karly knows she has nothing in common with the aristocratic Warrick--except an overwhelming mutual attraction. And though Warrick's intentions appear honorable, Karly cannot bring herself to reveal her closely guarded secrets. But when danger threatens to tear them apart, she must decide if she can share herself fully with the man who is now her husband--and if she wants a love that can last forever...
***

For a moment she could forget they were at odds and surrender to safety. He would not harm her, of that she was sure. It hadn't pained to bare her soul before him, his quiet words were comforting. Men weren't like that or was it simply around her? She gathered every shred of logic she could manage and patched the open wound in her heart, taking deep breaths until she was again solid. "I don't normally lose control like that."

"It's time you did. You've been holding tight for too long, not without reason."

Karly sank onto the bench and didn't move when he tucked her hair over her shoulders. Across from them the fountain splashed and water meandered down the wall into a small pool. It was silent, the rain masking the sound. If only she could drown the sound of her racing thoughts as easily. "You should annul the marriage soon. The damage will be less that way."

"How very philosophical of you."

"Will I need to sign anything?"

"No, the matter is entirely in my hands. All I need to do is ask and our marriage will be dissolved within the week. But I don't believe I will." Shadows deepened and then were gone from his face but never seemed to leave his eyes.

She sensed danger, from him and from within her heart. She needed to guide the conversation, before the path became more treacherous. "The rain is slowing."

"Stop running from me."

His voice was like liquid silver in her veins. He stood before her and touched her lips with his finger, then languidly traced their outline. It was all Karly could do not to move or speak. Her body began to tremble with want of words. She could not go back, she could not break the spell he was casting. His touch advanced slowly past her cheek until his hand massaged the nape of her neck. She heard her own sigh and felt the tension ease, replaced by a delicious warmth that spread outward. "I won't fall in love."

22 September 2010

Women Did It Better: Bible Hunting

By Michelle Styles

How accurate is the modern Bible was question that occupied the 19th century mind--not just in its claims about the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood and such, but how accurate is the translation? In particular are the words of the New Testament the same as the words that the early Christians read? And how could you prove it? Even the Codex Vaticancus, which only the Pope and a few cardinals were allowed to read, was rumoured to have certain stories missing. For those of the Jewish faith, was the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus to Christians) and one of the fourteen books included in the Greek Old Testament originally written in Hebrew or not?

These were questions that troubled Biblical scholars through out the nineteenth century, and the answers would be provided by two intrepid Scottish sisters, Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Smith Gibson. They succeeded where men before them failed.

Looking behind St Catherine's

The sisters inherited their wealth from their father and became great travellers. Agnes wrote one of the first guidebooks to Cyprus. At a time when women didn't attend university, they learnt fourteen languages between them. Among other things, it made it easier to communicate to their dragoman and servants in Arabic. (An early voyage down the Nile had seen them cheated). They married late in life, Margaret to a scholar and Agnes to the librarian of Parker Library in Cambridge, Samuel Savage "Satan" Lewis. The Parker Library founded by Matthew Parker (the original nosy Parker) houses three quarters of all known Anglo Saxon manuscripts and it is here Agnes learnt about old manuscripts.

Inside St Catherine's

In January 1892, the sisters set out for St Catherine's in the Sinai armed with photographic equipment, portable water filters and variety of medicines. For the trip, Agnes had learnt Syriac, one of the early languages of the New Testament. They already knew Arabic and Modern Greek and so could converse easily with the monks and the Bedouin. They had managed to procure permission to visit one of the most remote monasteries in the world, and the place most likely to hold an ancient version of the Bible.

Their mission was complicated by the fact that in 1857, Constantin von Tischendorf had borrowed (stolen according to the monks) the Codex Sinaiticus and published it to great acclaim. After Von Tischendorf's discovery, as far as they were able bible hunters scoured the monastery for more manuscripts. The sisters were convinced that something else was there, if one could get access to the library.

The sisters, with their knowledge of the Orthodox Greek ways, gained the trust of the librarian of St Catherine's. There in a dark closet, they discovered the Sinaiticus Palimpsest. A monk at some point had cleaned a copy of the New Testament in Syriac and written a Martyrology of Female Saints (basically porn for monks) over it. Agnes with her background was able to recognise it for what it was, photographed it and went back to Cambridge. There, she interested three Biblical scholars in it, persuaded them to join another expedition and the work was eventually translated. It proved to be one of the most complete and earliest manuscripts of the Four Gospels. Today, the most important book in the library at St Catherine's is the Sinaiticus Palimpsest and it still resides in the wooden box that the sisters had made for it.

Later, the two sisters returned to Cairo and bought some manuscripts pages in Hebrew. They had their friend Schetcher look at them. He immediately recognised the pages for what they were--an early Hebrew version of the Ben Sira. He also had a good idea where the manuscripts came from and travelled to Cairo. There he discovered a genizah or dead letter drop for Jewish people that contained over 800 years of manuscripts and other documents as according to Jewish law one did not destroy anything containing the Four Letters of the Holy Name. It proved to be the richest source of medieval Jewish materials in existence.

Later still Agnes purchased two Syriac palimpsests. They proved to be the only non Biblical documents of any length to survive in Palestinian Syriac, a dialect that was wiped out through the spread of Islam. So the women's contribution to our knowledge of the ancient world was immense. You can read more about them and their exploits in Sisters In Sinai by Janet Soskice.

Palimpsests are still being recovered today in odd forgotten corners of the world, and who knows what others works might be uncovered, particularly as modern techniques are so much better.

Michelle Styles writes historical romances for Harlequin Historical. She recently visited St Catherine's on a book research expedition. It is a fascinating place, made all the more fascinating by the exploits of the Smith sisters. Her next UK release is THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS (Dec 10), and in the US A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY (Dec 10). There will a free online read starting on 15 November on e-Harlequin to celebrate the publication of A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY.

21 September 2010

Women Did It Better: The Mosuo Tribe of China

By Jeannie Lin

In Greek tradition, the Amazons were a tribe of warrior women who were known to be as fierce as any man. In China, however, the Kingdom of Women is a much more peaceful society. The Mosuo tribe is one of the many ethnic minorities of China and also one of the matriarchal societies that continues to exist to this day.

The Mosuo live in the Lugu Lake region in the southern part of China between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Their matriarchal tradition goes back over two thousand years.

The society is organized by family into households which are lead by a matriarch. Couples engage in what are called "walking marriages," which are relationships held together only by a mutual affection and not other vows or bonds.

The woman holds the power in the walking marriage as her lover is expected to visit her in her own home by going to her private bed chamber. He is then expected to leave early the next morning. She can terminate the relationship by simply leaving the door closed. Also if there are any children from the union, they belong to the woman's family. However, it's quite common for a couple to fall in love in which case, a woman will see only her one partner. The bond is one of choice rather than law.

Men in this society continue to live in their mother's or the matriarch of the family's home. He cannot claim any of the material wealth of his children as they belong to their mother's family just as he does to his. In old age, men are taken care of by the children of their sister--not his own children.

Isolated around Lugu Lake, the Mosuo have been able to preserve their culture which is reportedly free of issues of prostitution or rape. There is no strife caused by divorce or infidelity as women can end the walking marriages at any time.

An interesting documentary titled The Kingdom of Women was filmed about the way of life of the Mosuo and how the culture is changing in modern times.

20 September 2010

Women Did It Better: Mountain Climbing

By Zoe Archer

Mountains have been luring men for centuries, if not millennia. A man sees a giant, intimidating mountain, and he longs to climb it and prove his mastery over nature. But the need to conquer mountains does not belong to men alone. As the sport of mountaineering developed during the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, women looked up at these massive natural structures and thought, "Why not me, too?"

Even though mountains provided these female climbers with plenty of obstacles, the greater risks often came on a social and societal level. Climbing mountains was not "respectable," requiring physical and emotional strength, immodest clothing, and a desire to prove that women were just as capable as men.

Henriette d'Angeville (1794-1871) was the first woman to ever climb Mont Blanc. She was given the nickname "La Fiancée du Mont Blanc," and was meanly said to love the mountain because, as a spinster, she had no one else to love. She scaled Mont Blanc for the first time in 1838 after undergoing rigorous comprehensive training. There was no ascribed mountaineering clothing for women, so d'Angeville work red flannel underwear, woolen stockings on top of silk stockings, tweed, flannel-lined knickerbockers, a fur hat, a straw hat, a velvet mask, a veil, a fur-lined pelisse and green spectacles. When d'Angeville reached the summit, she drank a toast to the Comte de Paris and then released a carrier pigeon to announce her victory.

Another celebrated female climber was Isabella Bird (1831-1904). Bird did not begin her career as an adventurer until she was forty one years old, when persistent illness took her from Britain to Australia in search of a better climate. Australia didn't improve her health, but she next voyaged to the Sandwich Islands (later known as Hawai'i). Here, Bird's health underwent a dramatic improvement, and she climbed Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano at 13,650 feet.

Newly invigorated, Bird traveled to the Rocky Mountains in 1873. She lived for several years in the wilderness of Estes Park and had a (possibly romantic) relationship with a trapper called Rocky Mountain Jim. During her time in the Rockies, Bird wrote many letters to her sister, which were published in 1879. These detailed her hardy mountain life and her numerous climbing expeditions. She climbed the 14,255 feet high Long's Peak, and then went on to travel to and write about such far-flung places as Japan, the Malay Peninsula, Persia, Tibet, Korea, Sinai, China and Morocco. Clearly, bad heath never regained its hold on her.

The dashing Elizabeth Le Blond, née Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed (1861-1934), was the daughter of a baronet. Her upper class background made her an even less likely candidate for becoming a mountaineer, and her family heartily disapproved of her unconventional climbing mania. Like Bird, Le Blond first traveled to the mountains for heath reasons, and insisted that, at the time, she knew nothing about mountaineering, nor did the sport interest her at all.

That lack of interest did not last long, and she made many ascents of the Alps, wearing breeches under her skirt. As she neared the higher parts of the mountains, she would remove the skirt, but always put it back on before returning from her expeditions. Le Blond founded the Ladies' Alpine Club in 1907 and became their first president. She also made numerous films of life in the Alps and was one of the first female filmmakers to garner attention for her work.

There were American female mountaineers, such as Fanny Bullock Workman (18-59-1925), who made ascents of the Himalayas, and Annie Peck (1850-1935) climbed in Peru and Bolivia. Miriam O'Brien Underhill (1898-1976; pictured) was considered for years to be the best American female climber, and she organized and led "manless" climbs: all-women mountain climbing expeditions. The Australian Freda du Faur (1882-1935) was the first female mountaineer to climb Mount Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain. Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was not only a known adventurer and explorer, but a mountaineer, as well, and Miriam Underhill replicated many of Bell's climbs in the Alps.

These women braved natural threats and social scorn. They did it because they loved the mountains. They loved freedom, and the liberty to push themselves to the very edge of their physical and emotional capacity, rather than sit safely, decorously, in a parlor.

Perhaps the best symbol of why women climbed mountains--and why they continue to do so today--can be seen in this photo of Fanny Bullock Workman. In it, she stands atop a mountain in the Karakorum range, brandishing a sign that reads: VOTES FOR WOMEN.

AWAKENED BY A KISS Winner!

We have a winner for Lila DiPasqua's AWAKENED BY A KISS guest blog. A free copy of goes to:

SARAH RAPLEE!

Contact Carrie to provide your mailing address. The book must be claimed by next Sunday or another winner will be drawn. Please stop back later to let us know what you thought! Congratulations!

19 September 2010

Guest Author: Christina Phillips

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're welcoming Christina Phillips, whose steamy new release from Berkley Heat, FORBIDDEN, is set Wales during the Roman Empire!

He was a master of seduction--but no match for the magical allure of the woman he wanted most...

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion--his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan's ethereal princess, Carys, his daring voyeur. Falling under her spell, he doesn't realize her true heritage--until he captures her heart as well as her body.

As Carys's loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, an avenging former lover threatens to crush Maximus's people into oblivion. Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive.
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"The heat between these two crosses cultural boundaries, but the real question is whether they can stay together when the world is yanking them apart. Four Stars." ~ RT Book Reviews

"Maximus is pure, raw male and too sexy for words. I could understand why Carys was enthralled with him and wanted him despite being her enemy. I am also a sucker for star-crossed lovers and a really evil villain. It made this book very thrilling as I hoped Maximus and Carys would be able to evade Aeron's nefarious plans and end up happily together." ~ Bookaholics

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Thank you for having me here on Unusual Historicals today! I'd like to chat a little about the background information on my recent release, FORBIDDEN.

When and where is FORBIDDEN set?

My debut release with Berkley Heat (out this month) is set in AD 50 in Cymru (ancient Wales). My inspiration for this story came while I was tackling some admin one night--a fully formed vision appeared in my mind of a Roman centurion and his Druid priestess lover, who had been cursed to an eternity apart by the villainous High Druid.

I'd never written a historical before, but that scene wouldn't leave my mind. My Roman hero haunted me (not that I'm complaining!!) and since I always enjoy a challenge when it comes to stretching my writing muscles I decided to spend some time with Maximus and Carys.

Why chose Wales?

The reason I chose Wales as my setting was because of its links to the Druids, and the fact the Isle of Anglesey--then known as the Isle of Mon--was the Druid stronghold. I wanted the odds stacked overwhelmingly against Maximus and Carys being able to declare their love for each other and having her a Druid--and a Druid princess at that--fit perfectly.

Claudius, the Roman Emperor at the time, hated Druids with a passion and wanted all trace of them wiped out across his Empire. Couldn't be better for the purposes of my plot! I now had historical back up for my Romans' determination to hunt down and eliminate the elusive clan of Druids who had escaped them during the initial invasion.

Why Druids?

While there's plenty of written and archaeological evidence when it comes to the Romans, there's not so much when it comes to the Druids. Caesar explains this lack of documentary evidence when talking of the Gaulish Druids: "they consider it improper to entrust their studies to writing." And the written accounts we do have of them are invariably from the Roman viewpoint--so there's likely to be some prejudice going on there!

I read and researched as much as I could find about Druids of that period. They were widely respected as the priests of Celtic society, held responsibilities for lawmaking, were the keepers of knowledge and wisdom and were known as magicians. But there's little detail as to their daily lives and so in the end I let my imagination run wild within the context of the world we know they inhabited.

What are you working on now?

I'm currently working on another ancient historical romance set in a different century, and also hope to write two more stories in the "Forbidden" series. Be sure to visit my blog for regular updates! You can also find me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Thanks so much for stopping by today, Christina! Readers, if you would like to win a copy of this steamy historical treat, leave a comment or question for Christina. What would you most like to know about Wales and Druids in the ancient times? Are gladiators and Roman warriors appealing to you as romance heroes? I'll draw a winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!

17 September 2010

Weekly Announcements - 17 Sept 2010

The fourth of the new additions to our roll of contributors is Ashley Radcliff. Welcome! Ashley recently made her first sale. "THE SAMURAI'S FORBIDDEN TOUCH," set in Heian Japan (794-1185AD), will be available this October from Harlequin Historicals Undone. Here's the blurb, with the cover coming soon:
Miku, a beautiful young poetess, lives a cloistered life at her uncle's opulent feudal estate in windswept northern Japan. But when her uncle, a devious warlord, commands a powerful and darkly handsome samurai to tame her headstrong independence, will Miku choose to run from all that the intriguing soldier has to offer--or will she finally find the uncompromising love she has only dreamed of in her poetry?
And here's a little more about our newest contributor:
For Ashley, inspiration finds its best outlet when she picks up a pen. A lifelong student of literature and history, perhaps it was inevitable that she'd find her way to historical fiction. Nursed on Shakespeare and weaned on Twain, she learned early that the most important part of any story is the characters themselves. Her stories deliver breathtakingly exotic--and deeply erotic!--romantic adventures, whether in the windswept mountains of medieval Japan, the steamy jungles of Central America, or the elegant courts of Regency England.

Ashley enjoys being outside as much as possible--hiking, kayaking, and exploring. On a rainy day, she enjoys needlework or reading a good book. And she absolutely love cooking for my family and friends!
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Occasionally we get news from authors who aren't regular contributors, but who write unusual times and places. We love to pass it along to our readers! This week I heard from Noble Romance Publishing author E.D. Walker, whose THE BEAUTY'S BEAST was released on September 6. Congratulations! THE BEAUTY'S BEAST is a paranormal historical romance from Noble Romance's Sweetheart Line. The story draws on elements of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale, as well as Marie de France's medieval lais, "Bisclavret." Here's the blurb:
Lady Kathryn's father has sent her to court to find a husband, but being penniless and disinterested doesn't bode well for her success. Bored by the petty intrigues of court, she finds her loneliness is eased when the king charges her with the care of his newest acquisition: an uncanny black wolf. What the king doesn't realize is his remarkable pet was once Gabriel, his favorite knight, cursed into wolf form by an unfaithful wife.

The beast's too-knowing eyes and the way he seems to understand her every utterance convinces Kathryn the wolf is more than what he seems. Resolving to restore him, she doesn't count on the greatest obstacle being Gabriel himself. The longer he stays in wolf form as a captive of the court, the harder it becomes for him to remember his humanity. And to fight his wolfish urges to maim and kill.

Only Kathryn's affection and determination stand between Gabriel the wolf and Gabriel the man. But when the wife who betrayed him returns to court, will Kathryn's love be enough to keep Gabriel from exacting a brutish revenge that will condemn the wolf to death?
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Booklist Online did a feature earlier this week titled "Core Collection: The New Stars of Historical Romance." The list featured past Unusual Historicals guests Meredith Duran, for her Indian-set DUKE OF SHADOWS, and Sherry Thomas, and also our dear contributors Margaret Mallory and Anthea Lawson! Margaret's KNIGHT OF DESIRE and Anthea's PASSIONATE were singled out in this fantastic collection of today's best historical romance authors. Great job!

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Congratulations to Lila DiPasqua, who has a title for her third "Fiery Tales" romance, this time a full-length romance that promises Cinderella as we've never read it before. A MIDNIGHT DANCE will hit the shelves from Berkley Sensation in August 2011. Can't wait to see the cover!

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Join us Sunday when Berkley Heat author Christina Phillips will be here to chat about her sexy romance FORBIDDEN, set in Wales during the Roman Empire. She'll also be giving away a copy to one lucky commenter! Be sure to join us then.

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We'll also draw the winner of Lila DiPasqua's AWAKENED BY A KISS guest appearance on Sunday. You still have time to leave a comment or question for your chance to win.

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Stay with us through the coming weeks when we'll be featuring the best unusual historical authors! Sarah Parr, Zoe Archer, Jeannie Lin, and Renee Ryan will be our guests. Join us!

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Have a good weekend! Remember, you don't have to be an Unusual Historicals contributor to submit good news to the weekend announcements. If it has to do with unusual historicals, we'd love to shout it out to the world! Send announcements to Carrie. See you next week...

16 September 2010

Excerpt Thursday: Christina Phillips

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're welcoming Christina Phillips, whose steamy debut with Berkley Heat, FORBIDDEN, is set Wales during the Roman Empire! Join us on Sunday when Christina will be here to answer questions and give away a copy.

He was a master of seduction--but no match for the magical allure of the woman he wanted most...

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion--his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan's ethereal princess, Carys, his daring voyeur. Falling under her spell, he doesn't realize her true heritage--until he captures her heart as well as her body.

As Carys's loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, an avenging former lover threatens to crush Maximus's people into oblivion. Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive.
***

***

Carys held her breath as her secret lover entered the sparkling waterfall, buried deep within the leafy shadows of the forest.

She pressed her fingers against the rough bark of the tree, and inched a little farther along the branch where she lay hidden from his sight.

From this angle she had a perfect view of his magnificent naked body. Even from this distance she could see the numerous battle scars that marred his tawny skin, but they marked him as a warrior. A hero who faced death without reservation and emerged triumphant.

He was the enemy of her people. And yet she couldn't tear her fascinated gaze from him.

They had never met. They would never meet. Such a catastrophe didn't bear thinking about. Yet she thought of this tough, brutal warrior constantly. Ever since she had first stumbled across his irregular bathing ritual three moons ago.

He turned within the shimmering rainbows of the waterfall, fingers raking through his short black hair. Carys released her breath in a shaky gasp and her body moved restlessly against her perilous ledge. The men of Cymru had long, flowing hair. How would it feel to touch such severely cropped hair? Sharp, like the points of reeds? Or--not? She couldn't imagine. And yet she imagined endlessly.

His hands massaged his broad shoulders, and Carys's fingers dug into woody crevices as she fantasized rubbing her own fingers over his knotted muscles. It had been fifteen days since he had last been to the waterfall. She knew because she had waited here, each morning.

But the wait had been worth it, and her imagination hadn't enhanced his powerful muscles, his commanding height or his dark, exotic beauty. Her breath shortened as her heart rate accelerated, and her thighs tightened around the branch in reaction.

Slowly his hands slid over wet skin, fingers trailing through the sprinkling of dark hair that dusted his impressive chest. Her only lover, whose possessive grip she had finally escaped three years ago, possessed no body hair aside from on his head. How would it feel to press against a masculine form so unlike any she had previously seen?

The tip of her tongue slid over her lips as her secret lover sluiced water over his rigid stomach. Carys stretched to the very edge of her branch, risking safety and the threat of discovery, but temptation was too great.

Sweet Cerridwen, she had never wanted a man so much as she wanted this one. But she knew better than to ask her goddess to intervene, for intervention would cause untold suffering to her people.

But still, she wanted this man. With all that she was.

15 September 2010

Women Did It Better: Cixi and Ci'an

By Isabel Roman

These two women, especially Cixi--who started her political career as a teenage concubine--ruled the final days of imperial China with an iron hand. They were wives of the Xianfeng Emperor and seized power from the Eight Regent Ministers who governed China upon Xianfeng's death, becoming co-Empress Dowagers to Cixi's son, the Tongzhi Emperor. Cixi was de facto ruler of China from 1861-1908, the year or her death.

It was through shrewd alliances with enemies of the Eight Regent Ministers that Cixi wrestled power from them. Ci'an, the principle wife and more traditionally powerful of the two, wisely allied herself with Cixi but kept herself out of most court meetings. She died in 1881.

Cixi continued to rule China as all Qing emperors had, but times changed. Contact with the West, especially Britain and the Eight-Nation Alliance, had forever changed China's place in the world. Cixi, who was staunchly against Western-style governmental policies, changed too little too late. She installed Han Chinese in positions of power--rather than reserve all top positions for Manchu--and it was a Han Chinese military man, Zeng Guofan, who became general of the Chinese Imperial Army against the Taiping Rebellion.

Though Cixi attempted minor reforms of the bloated bureaucracy, China is a vast country and corruption was rampant. Cixi was also reluctant to give up her authority. Her nephew, the Guangxu Emperor, attempted to initiate the Hundred Days Reform, but Cixi lead a coup against him in 1898. She kept him under house arrest until his death in 1908, a mere 17 days after Cixi died.

But the question remains: How did Cixi and Ci'an do it better, ruling all of China for nearly 50 years? The times forced them, and indeed all of China, to change, but they also managed to bend an entire nation to their powerful wills.

14 September 2010

Women Did It Better: The Reign of Women

By Lisa Yarde

In Ottoman Turkey of the 16th and 17th centuries, when religious and cultural mores kept most females secluded behind harem walls, five generations of women fulfilled their quest for influence. Each entered the Ottoman world as a slave, where the love of a powerful man meant access to power. They dominated the lives of their husbands and sons so that each became the power behind the throne, and influenced policy through their men. This period became known as the Reign of Women (Turkish: Kadinlar Saltanati)

Hurrem Sultan (appx. 1500-April 1558): Her name meant 'the laughing one' in Persian. While historians are not entirely sure of her origins in either the Ukraine or Poland, it is clear that when Hurrem entered the harem of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the teenage beauty captivated him. Soon, he put aside his then favorite, Gulbehar, and the heir apparent, their son Mustafa, and devoted himself to Hurrem.

She bore him at least five surviving children: four sons named Mehmed (born 1521), Selim (born 1524), Bajezit (born 1525) and Jihangir (born 1531), and a daughter, Mihrimah (born 1522). Eventually Suleiman married Hurrem and recognized her as his only legal wife, which his subjects viewed with horror, as the Ottoman rulers for almost a century before had taken only concubines.

In 1541, when the palace reserved for royal women burned to the ground, she moved into Suleiman's residence. It would not be the last time Hurrem shocked the court. She influenced Suleiman in the murder of his childhood best friend and grand vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, because he supported Mustafa's claim to the throne. Her son in-law Rustem became Suleiman's advisor, and with her support, swayed Suleiman to murder his eldest son. In this way, Hurrem ensured the ascension of her second surviving son as Selim II. She exchanged diplomatic letters with the Polish king Sigismund II Augustus, ensuring peaceful relations between the two states. Long after her death, her influence remained the political actions of her daughter Mihrimah, who also advised Suleiman.

Nurbanu Sultan (1520s-December 1583): When Cecilia Venier-Baffo, niece of Sebastiano Venier, the Doge of Venice, entered the harem of the future Selim II in 1537, her status quickly went from noblewoman to slave. She must have quickly deduced by the experience of her master's mother, Hurrem Sultan, that a woman could wield influence in the Ottoman court.

Interior of Atik Valide (Mother of the Old Sultan) Mosque, commissioned in Nurbanu's name.

She gave Selim three daughters before their son and heir, Murad, was born in 1546. She also became his legal wife. When Selim II succeeded his father in 1566, Murad remained his principle heir despite the births of five other sons with different women. At Selim's death, as the Valide Sultan (queen mother), Nurbanu hid his passing until her son could arrive from his post as a governor of an Ottoman province.

She immediately began her influence in the court of Murad III, so much so that the Venetian ambassador to the Ottoman court once remarked, "all good and bad come from the queen mother." She corresponded personally with Queen Catherine de Medici of France, and ensured her son's government adopted a pro-Venetian policy. When Murad's grand vizier Sinan Pasha commented that the counsel of women should not affect the empire, she had him dismissed in the year before her sudden death.

Safiye Sultan (1550–early 1600s): Nurbanu Sultan did not have any notable rival for her husband's affections, but the arrival of a new slave in Murad's harem, Safiye, tested the Valide's power over her son, Murad. Safiye entered the prince's household in the 1560s as a teenager. Her origins were likely Venetian, given her pro-Venetian interests. Born Sofia Baffo, she might have been a relative of Nurbanu.

She became Murad's favorite and he remained so devoted to her and to their children that his mother begged him to take other concubines instead of relying solely on his son, Mehmed by Safiye, as the potential heir. He must have followed Nurbanu's advice resolutely, eventually fathering twenty sons and twenty-seven daughters with his concubines. History does not record how Safiye must have felt about this interference. When Nurbanu died in 1583, Safiye became free to exercise sole influence over Murad. He died in 1595 and their son, Mehmed III, succeeded him. While Mehmed remained in power until 1603, Safiye managed affairs for him during the Austro-Ottoman war in Hungary.

Kosem Sultan (1590–September 1651): Mehmed III fathered a son, Ahmet I, who became ruler of the Ottoman Empire in 1603, at the age of thirteen. Before that he had spent several years in isolation in the Golden Cage, an apartment built on the orders of Selim II and reserved for princes younger than the reigning sovereign. Two years later, a fifteen year-old Greek girl entered his harem, re-named Kosem. She gave him at least three surviving sons, Murad, Bajezit and Ibrahim.

Unfortunately for Kosem, Ahmet died in 1617 and his brother, Mustafa I, succeeded him. All that time in the Golden Cage in his youth made Mustafa crazy. Courtiers deposed him twice before Kosem's son, Murad IV, came to the throne in 1623 at the age of eleven. His youth required the appointment of the Valide Sultan Kosem as his official regent. She presided over meetings of the Divan, her son's cabinet, from behind a curtain where she remained secluded from view. It was the first time in Ottoman history where a woman played such a prominent, official role.

Murad proved to be a cruel ruler in his majority, prohibiting drinking and smoking, while he abused both habits. His younger brother Ibrahim soon showed signs of by the same madness that affected Mustafa I. Kosem's hope that her remaining son Bajezit might succeed his incompetent brother ended when Murad ordered Bajezit's death after losing a contest to him. When Murad died in 1640 at the age of 27 because of his drinking, Kosem had to coax a fearful Ibrahim out of the Golden Cage. His ineptitude allowed her to oversee the empire again.

Turhan Sultan (late 1620s-mid 1680s): One night, in a fit of madness, Ibrahim I ordered 280 of his concubines drowned in the Bosporus Sea. One of the women who apparently survived this purge was Turhan, the Ukrainian-born mother of Ibrahim's heir, Mehmed. Turhan had arrived in the empire at the age of twelve, a gift from the Valide Sultan Kosem to her deranged son.

In August 1648, when courtiers murdered Ibrahim, Turhan should have inherited the position of Valide Sultan, by Ottoman tradition. Instead Ibrahim's mother Kosem re-asserted her power and took control of her seven-year old grandson, Mehmed. Both women divided the court into separate factions supporting their quest for power. Perhaps Kosem believed she could eliminate Turhan's power if she removed Mehmed.

In September 1651, she arranged for his assassination, but met her own death at the hands of Turhan's supporters. Kosem hid in a cabinet, but the conspirators discovered her and strangled the sixty-one year old with a curtain. Turhan reigned supreme as Valide Sultan, also serving as official regent for her son during his minority. When she died, the Reign of Women ended.