Today it is my great pleasure to introduce author Cindy Nord on my blog. Her Civil War Romance No Greater Glory, was just released on July 31, 2012. It also happens to be her debut novel. Already, the book has created quite a buzz, and is receiving rave reviews from readers. Congratulations, Cindy!
Cindy loves everything Victorian, and today she's here to talk about fans! As in those things you wave in front of your face. Ok, I'd better turn it over to her now, since she is much better at explaining what a fan is, and its many uses.
|1863 Punched paper with feathers and ivory slats|
KEEPING ONE’S COOL…The Victorian Fan
Today, one never leaves home without their credit card…or so the commercial goes. But in the mid-19th century, a proper Victorian lady would never leave home without her fan.
|Black-lacquered evening fan|
In fact, so prominent a role did this little “voguish accessory" play in secrecy and love that it quickly became known as "the Lady’s scepter." This exquisite, hand-crafted instrument served a much more important role than merely a practical way to move around the air. In fact, holding one a certain way could tell a special someone an entire story. For you see, the Victorians lived and breathed by proper etiquette – and these guidelines demanded certain boundaries exist between men and women. However, love was still love, and getting a message across a crowded room to the recipient of one’s heart meant a lady must be crafty while in a throng. To do so, Victorian ladies created elaborate flirtation rituals with their intended suitor while safely ensconced behind the slats of their hand-held communicator. Full of subtlety, this oft-times objets d’art accessory was useful to hide behind or temper blushes or even allow a straying gaze or two. Whether one was at an afternoon soiree, an elegant evening ball or even the popular theatre, engaging in a full conversation could be done without even the utterance of sound. So let’s talk the Victorian language of the fan…shall we?
|hand-beaded lace on ivory slats|
"Yes" – the closed fan rests on the right cheek.
"No" – the closed fan rests on the left cheek.
"Follow me" – the closed fan placed in right hand in front of face.
"I wish to speak with you" touching a finger to the tip of the open fan.
"We will just be friends" – the fan is dropped to the floor.
"You have won my love" – the closed fan is placed near the heart.
"Kiss me" – the handle-end of the closed fan placed on the lips.
"You are cruel" – the fan opening and closing several times.
|ostrich feathers on tortoiseshell slats|
"Do not betray our secret" – the open fan covering the left ear.
"When may I be allowed to see you?" – the fan is held closed and touching the right eye.
"At what hour?" – the number of sticks shown answers that question.
"I am engaged" – fanning the fan quickly.
"I am married" – fanning the fan slowly.
"Do not be so indiscreet" – sharp movements with a closed fan.
|1860's oriental silkscreen, handpainted|
"You may kiss me" – fan placed half-opened against the lips.
"Forgive me" – hands clasped together while holding an open fan.
"Leave me alone" – placing the closed fan over the left ear.
"Wait for me" – the fan is opened wide and fluttered in the right hand.
"I love you" – the open fan covers the eyes.
"I hate you" – drawing the closed fan through the clenched fist.
"I love someone else" – twirling the closed fan in the right hand.
"Yes I’ll meet you later" – slowly shutting a fully opened fan.
"I am sorry" – the closed fan is drawn slowly across the front of the eyes.
"Goodbye" – the closed fan placed behind the head with index finger extended.
"We are being watched" – twirling the closed fan in the left hand.
|silk paper on mother-of-pearl slats|
"Shall we meet later?" – the fan rests in left hand in front of face.
"Come over here and talk to me" – the fan is opened wide and fluttered in the left hand.
(Language of the Victorian Fan information compiled from Reenactors Journal magazine)
Who knew that fans conveyed so much! And you may need one while reading her book!
And now, Cindy will treat us to her blurb, and an excerpt from
No Greater Glory
Amid the carnage of war, he commandeers far more than just her home.
Widowed plantation owner Emaline McDaniels has struggled to hold on to her late husband’s dreams. Despite the responsibilities resting on her shoulders, she’ll not let anyone wrest away what’s left of her way of life—particularly a Federal officer who wants to set up his regiment’s winter encampment on her land. With a defiance born of desperation, she defends her home as though it were the child she never had…and no mother gives up her child without a fight.
Despite the brazen wisp of a woman pointing a gun at his head, Colonel Reece Cutteridge has his orders. Requisition Shapinsay—and its valuable livestock—for his regiment’s use, and pay her with Union vouchers. He never expected her fierce determination, then her concern for his wounded, to upend his heart—and possibly his career.
As the Army of the Potomac goes dormant for the winter, battle lines are drawn inside the mansion. Yet just as their clash of wills shifts to forbidden passion, the tides of war sweep Reece away. And now their most desperate battle is to survive the bloody conflict in Virginia with their lives—and their love—intact.
NO GREATER GLORY
Seven miles west of Falmouth, Virginia
A bitter wind slammed through the tattered countryside, sucking warmth from the morning. Emaline McDaniels rocked back in the saddle when she heard the shout. She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes widened. Across the fields of ragged tobacco, her farrier rode toward her at breakneck speed. Lines of alarm carved their way across the old man’s ebony face.
Emaline spurred her horse around to meet him. “What’s wrong?”
Tacker pointed a gnarled finger eastward. “Yankees, Miz Emaline! Coming up da road from
“Yankees?” Her heart lurched against her ribs. She’d heard of their thievery, the fires and destruction left in their wake. Teeth-gritting determination to save her home flashed through her. She leaned sideways, gripping his work-worn sleeve. “Are you sure they’re not the home guard?”
“No, ma’am. I seen ’em, dey’s blue riders, for sure. Hundreds of ’em.”
Two workers moved closer to listen to the exchange, and the farrier acknowledged them with a quick nod.
“Everyone back to the cabins,” Emaline snapped, sinking into the saddle. “And use the wagon road along the river. It’ll be safer.”
“Ain’t you comin’ with us?”
“No. Now move along quickly, all of you. And keep out of sight.” She flicked the reins and her horse headed straight across the fields toward the red-brick mansion that hugged the far edge of the horizon.
The spongy ground beneath the animal’s hooves churned into clods of flying mud. Aside from a few skirmishes nearby, the war had politely stayed east along the Old Plank Road around Fredericksburg.
Her mare crested the small hillock near the main house, and Emaline jerked back on the leather reins. Off to her far right, a column of cavalrymen numbering into the hundreds approached. The dust cloud stirred up by their horses draped in a heavy haze across the late-morning air. In numbed fascination, she stared at the pulsing line of blue-coated soldiers, a slithering serpent of destruction a quarter of a mile long.
Waves of nausea welled up from her belly. “Oh my God…” she whispered. She dug her boot heels into the mare’s sides and the nimble sorrel sprang into another strong gallop. Praying she’d go unnoticed, Emaline leaned low, her thoughts racing faster than the horse. What do they want? Why are they here?
Her fingers curled into the coarse mane as seconds flew past. At last, she reached the back entrance of the mansion. Quickly dismounting, she smacked the beast’s sweaty flank to send it toward the stable then spun to meet the grim expression fixed upon the face of the old woman who waited for her at the bottom of the steps. “I need Benjamin’s rifle!”
“Everythin’s right dere, Miz Emaline. Right where you’d want it.” She shifted sideways and pointed to the .54 caliber Hawkins, leather cartridge box and powder flask lying across the riser like sentinels ready for battle. “Tacker told me ’bout the Yankees afore he rode out to find you.”
“Bless you, Euley.” Emaline swept up the expensive, custom-made hunting rifle her late husband treasured. The flask followed and she tumbled black crystals down the rifle’s long muzzle. A moment later, the metal rod clanked down inside the barrel to force a lead ball home.
She’d heard so many stories of the bluecoats’ cruelty. What if they came to kill us? The ramrod fell to the ground. With a display of courage she did not feel, Emaline heaved the weapon into her arms, swept past the old servant, and took the wooden steps two at a time. There was no time left for what ifs.
“You stay out of sight now, Euley. I mean it.” The door banged shut behind Emaline as she disappeared into the house.
Each determined footfall through the mansion brought her closer and closer to the possibility of yet another change in her life. She eased open the front door and peered out across Shapinsay’s sweeping lawns. Dust clogged the air and sent another shiver skittering up her spine. She moved out onto the wide veranda, and with each step taken, her heart hammered in her chest. Five strides later, Emaline stopped at the main steps and centered herself between two massive Corinthian columns.
She squared her shoulders. She lifted her chin. She’d fought against heartbreak every day for three years since her husband’s death. She’d fought the constant fear of losing her beloved brother in battle. She fought against the effects of this foolhardy war that sent all but two of her field hands fleeing. If she could endure all that plus operate this plantation all alone to keep Benjamin’s dreams alive, then surely, this too, she could fight.
And the loaded weapon? Well, it was for her fortitude only.
She knew she couldn’t shoot them all.
“Please, don’t turn in,” she mumbled, but the supplication withered on her lips when the front of the long column halted near the fieldstone gateposts at the far end of the lane. Three cavalrymen turned toward her then approached in a steadfast, orderly fashion.
Her gaze skimmed over the first soldier holding a wooden staff, a swallow-tailed scrap of flag near its top whipping in the breeze. The diminutive silk bore an embroidered gold star surrounded by a laurel wreath, the words, US Cavalry-6th Ohio, stitched beneath. Emaline disregarded the second cavalryman and centered her attention directly upon the officer.
The man sat his horse as if he’d been born in the saddle, his weight distributed evenly across the leather. A dark slouch hat covered sable hair that fell well beyond the collar of his coat. Epaulets graced both broad shoulders, emphasizing his commanding look. A lifetime spent in the sun and saddle added a rugged cast to his sharp, even features.
An overwhelming ache throbbed behind her eyes. What if she had to shoot him?
Or worse—what if she couldn’t?
The officer reined his horse to a stop beside the front steps. His eyes, long-lashed and as brown as a bay stallion’s, caught and held hers. Though he appeared relaxed, Emaline sensed a latent fury roiling just beneath the surface of his calm.
Her hands weakened on the rifle and she leaned forward, a hair’s breadth, unwillingly sucked into his masculinity as night sucked into day. Inhaling deeply, she hoisted the Hawkins to her shoulder, aiming it at his chest. Obviously, in command, he would receive her lone bullet should he not heed her words. “Get off my land!”
|Audio cover for No Greater Glory|