Risky post: "tl;dr: I know in my heart Thomas Jefferson had this journalist killed"

What it says on the tin. This journalist’s name kept coming up in my research on early Alexander Hamilton-related US politics (he leaked the original Reynolds documents that led to Hamilton writing the notorious pamphlet, his prosecution for libel by Adams was a major campaign issue in the 1800 presidential election, and he also broke the Sally Hemings story).

I then found out that he conveniently died right around the time Alexander Hamilton would have subpoenaed him to testify against Jefferson in a prominent libel case…

Read all about it.

Funny search terms: May – September 2015

These are all terms people searched for that somehow brought them to my site!


short sweet stories about sisters
dear brother! please forgive me i am a sister-in-law with bursting tits


a short article of a character who rose from poverty [someone is doing their homework! and doesn’t want to spend more effort than necessary on it]
how does the poet of the clod and pebble make the poem moving [ditto, ffs]
[AUTHOR, NAME REDACTED] married [I know buddy, she’s a babe]
indirect quotes for lady and smart friends


kevin spacey cigar [took me a minute to figure out how they ended up here but it was this post]
regency joke what was a sponge cake
his cock rose expectantly story [this is not specific enough, searcher!]


malfoy loss
magnificent speeches
he put his hands round her waist cupping her breast over her blouse he whispered i going to undress you touch and taste you tonight he carried her to his bed


sweet stories of chad is a vampire and using is fangs on taylor neck telling her it won t hurt a new one [!!!]
fox hunting cruelty paintings [ONLY THE CRUEL ONES OKAY]

The cream of the jest

This post was originally published during my blog tour for Sweet Disorder, but Samhain redid their blog and the post was no longer available so I’m reposting it here.

There’s a scene in the book where my heroine, Phoebe, is late for a dinner appointment:

Mr. Gilchrist and another man were seated close to the door, Mr. Gilchrist recounting an amusing anecdote with an air of desperation. He chuckled nervously at the funny parts to fill the silence left by his companion, who was—Phoebe’s heart sank—checking his watch.[…]”And the grocer’s lady said to the cheesemonger’s wife, ‘Nothing goes after cheese,'” Phoebe finished for Mr. Gilchrist. “I’m so sorry I’m late.”

When I was writing this scene, I knew I wanted Phoebe to deliver the punchline of Mr. Gilchrist’s joke, and I wanted the punchline to be funny in and of itself (although not necessarily the same way it would be funny in the context of the whole joke). I also wanted it to provide atmosphere, i.e. convey a genre and era of joke that would add to the Regency vibe of my book. To do that, I looked at period “jest-books.”

One of the most entertaining that I found was The Treasury of Wit from 1786, ed. H. Bennet, M.A. The preface describes it as “A COMPLETE selection of Apophthegms and Jests, arranged, for the first time, in a new and methodical manner; and calculated to please the man of fashion, and the man of science, as well as the publick in general.”

The compiler has a lot of opinions!

“Jest Books have swarmed; but very poor, and a fit amusement for the mere vulgar. The name of some eminent wit is always put on the title page, as Chesterfield’s Jests, Garrick’s Jests, &c. &c. though, on looking into the pamphlets, only two or three of as many hundreds are imputed to the name on the title page. This is a gross absurdity, and unknown to other countries[…]But through twenty or more of these jest books has the editor waded, and has here given the cream of the jest.[…]The rest are most miserable; and raise no laughter, save of the Sardonic kind.”

Honestly, looking through tThe Treasury of Wit from the point of view of finding jokes I might actually want to tell, I couldn’t help wondering if all the really funny jokes were too “miserable” or “vulgar” for H. Bennet. (I also discovered that a lot of jokes in the eighteenth century were very long. I didn’t bother to read most of those so I can’t tell you much about them.)

I was tempted to conclude, “Wow, ideas of what’s funny do really change over time.”

But while certain forms of humor can seem incredibly dated or just plain puzzling in later decades/centuries, I have to remember that I wouldn’t, myself, necessarily find every joke book published today to be either very funny or in any way representative of “modern humor.” Plus, joke books are their own genre with their own audience and record only one facet of a society’s humor output. I’m left wondering, how much is a shift in styles of humor over time, and how much is simply a matter of personal taste?

Here, for your amusement and bemusement, are ten of my favorite jokes from H. Bennet’s Treasury of Wit:

[This is the full cheesemonger joke. The version I used, which believe it or not I found in a different book with identical wording in every other respect, right down to “the punctilios of precedence,” omits the tobacconist’s lady.]

Three ladies meeting at a visit, a grocer’s wife, a cheesemonger’s, and a tobacconist’s, who perhaps stood more upon the punctilios of precedence than some of their betters would have done at the court end of the town: when they had risen up and taken their leaves, the cheesemonger’s wife was going out of the room first; upon which the grocer’s lady, pulling her back by the tail of her gown, and stepping before her, “No, madam,” says she, “nothing comes after cheese.” I beg your pardon, madam, replies the cheesemonger’s wife, putting the tobacconist’s lady back, who was also stepping before her, after cheese comes tobacco.


[Doctors seem to be a popular target, at least of H. Bennet. This one bore the title “TWO OF A TRADE.” A sexton is the church official in charge of burying the dead.]

A physician being summoned to a vestry, to reprimand the sexton for drunkenness, dwelt so long on the sexton’s misconduct, that the latter indignantly replied, “Sir! I was in hopes you would have treated my failings with more gentleness, or that you would have been the last man alive to appear against me, as I have covered so many blunders of yours!”


In Charles the Second’s time, the ladies that were fond of hawking and hunting got into a fashion of wearing breeches. Some such ladies being one day at dinner at Sir Edward Lewknor’s, there was one Mr. Zephory, a precise clergyman, present. Discourse rising of fashions, he fell upon this, and railed against it. Robert Heighem, a jovial blade, being there, he undertook to vindicate the ladies; “For,” said he, “if a horse throws them, or by any mischance they get a fall, had you not rather see them in their breeches than naked?” Zephory, in a paroxysm of rage and zeal, cried, 0, no, by no means. In faith, said Heighem, I agree with you in that, so let us be friends.


One came to visit a gentleman in the country, and finding him eating some cherries with his spectacles on, having asked his reason for it, he answered, The truth is I bade my man bring me Kentish cherries, and the knave hath brought me these little ones which you see; therefore I eat them with my spectacles on to make them look bigger.


A gentleman, who was a staunch Whig, disputing with a Jacobite, said, He had two good reasons for being again the interest of the Pretender:– What are those? said the other. The first, replied he, is, that he is an impostor, not really King James’s son.–Why, that, said the Tory, would be a good reason, if it could be proved; and pray, Sir, what is your other? Why, said the Whig, that he is King James’s son.


A profligate young nobleman, being in company with some sober people, desired leave to toast the devil. The gentleman who sat next to him, said, He had no objection to any of his lordship’s friends.


Being asked, after his condemnation, “If he had changed his mind?” [Sir Thomas More] said, Yea; for I thought to have been shaven; but now, seeing I shall die so shortly, I will let my beard grow.


A young fellow came to offer himself to the Play-house, whose talent lay in comedy; and having given a specimen of his capacity to Mr Quin, he asked, “If he had ever played any parts in comedy?” The former answered, “Yes; he had played Abel in the Alchymist.” I am rather of opinion you played Cain, says Quin, for I am certain you murdered Abel.


A countryman sowing his ground, two smart fellows riding that way, one of them called to him, with an insolent air; “Well, honest fellow,” said he, “it is your business to sow, but we reap the fruits of your labour.” To which the countryman replied, It is very likely you may, for I am sowing hemp.

[Hemp, of course, is used to make rope, the implication being that these “smart fellows” will end on the gallows.]


A certain clergyman in the West of England, being at the point of death, a neighbouring brother, who had some interest with his patron, applied to him for the next presentation; upon which the former, who soon after recovered, upbraided him with the breach of friendship, and said, He wanted his death. No, no, Doctor, says the other, you quite mistake, it was your living 1 wanted.


And one bonus anecdote, which…I don’t know. I’m tempted to say, “It isn’t really a joke,” and yet I find it very funny:

A young gentleman, having consumed his fortune, plotted this way of repairing it. He had a god-mother, a widow of middle years, yet comely enough, and extremely rich. To her he comes, and tells her, he had a marriage in view that might advance him for ever. She desired to know the party; but in that he craved pardon for a while: yet, says he, the party is very well known to you; and all I beg of you is, to throw no hindrance in the way, when it comes to be published in church. She promised this most willingly: but guess her surprize, next Sunday, when she heard her own name given out. She burst into rage, but recollecting her promise, would not break it: and it proved a very happy match for both.


The ending is unexpected, right?

Tell me a favorite joke of yours, or tell me which of these jokes you find the funniest/least funny!

New contest: Sonali Dev's "A Bollywood Affair"

ETA: This contest is now closed. Carol L. won the book.

This month, since Sonali Dev’s sophomore romance The Bollywood Bride is out, I’m giving away a signed copy of her first book, along with a Bride bookmark and two of the bangles Sonali was giving away at RWA this summer (worn below by spokesmodel T-Rex)!


I absolutely adored this book. A fantastic romantic-comedy vibe, deep emotion, and well-done angst combine brilliantly. The Big Mis never got annoying and I cried several times. To no one’s surprise, I especially loved Samir cooking for Mili! I recommend you order takeout BEFORE you start reading, because this book will make you hungry.

Back cover copy:

Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.

Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naive village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.

Contest rules:

1. Comment on this post to enter.
2. The winner will be chosen at random using random.org.
3. US and Canada only.
4. Open for entries through October 26th, 2015.
5. I got this book signed at a conference. Sonali isn’t involved in the giveaway.

If you’d like to be alerted when new contests go up, you can sign up for my newsletter.

Good luck!

2015 holiday mailing: now with Hanukkah!

cover of True Pretenses photoshopped so Lydia is holding a menorahHappy holidays, everyone! Would you like to see your pals from my books celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah? Well you can!

I’ve written three adorable Christmas mini-stories, one about Solomon and Serena from A Lily Among Thorns, one about Nev and Penny from In for a Penny, and one about Phoebe and Nick from Sweet Disorder.

And brand-new for this year, I’ve got a mini-story about Ash and Lydia from True Pretenses celebrating Hanukkah together! (SPOILER: Ash has a beard.)

I’ll mail you the scene of your choice along with a Listen to the Moon postcard that will give you a sneak peek at the first five chapters, so you can get started on the book before it releases January 5th.

(Listen to the Moon is my third Lively St. Lemeston book, about an impassive valet and a snarky maid who marry to get a plum of a job—Toogood and Sukey from Sweet Disorder, if you’ve read it. If you’d like to be notified when the book comes out, sign up for my newsletter. There’s an option for new release notification ONLY if that’s your preference.)

sweet disorder cover with holly borderHere is how to sign up for the mailing:

1. E-mail me at [email protected] before December 1st.

2. Put “2015 holiday mailing” in the subject line.

3. Tell me your address and the name you want me to put on the envelope.

I will never use your address for anything else, ever. However, if you’d rather not share a physical address, I am happy to send your stuff via e-mail. Just ask!

4. Tell me which couple you want to see celebrating—Solomon and Serena, Nev and Penny, Nick and Phoebe, or Ash and Lydia.

5. If you want more than one story, no problem! For each additional story, just retweet my tweet about the mailing, reblog my tumblr post, share on facebook, or somehow link to this post on social media or your blog. lily among thorns cover with big mistletoe sprigLet me know in your email what you’ve done and which extra mini-storie(s) I should send. 🙂 All additional stories will be sent via e-mail to save mailing costs.

(Except for the new True Pretenses story, everything the same as last year, so if you’ve already read one, you don’t need to request it again.)

If you don’t use social media but want extra stories, feel free to come up with an alternative! The simplest would be telling a romance-reading friend about the mailing, but if that doesn’t work, here are a few other ideas: request your library buy one of my books; recommend or loan one of my books to someone you know; leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. Anything goes, this is supposed to be fun!

in for a penny cover, there's a christmas tree in the background and nev wears a santa hat6. If you don’t get a confirmation email within 3 days, please comment on this post asking me to check my spam folder.

7. This is open internationally.

8. I won’t be posting these mini-stories online anywhere—I want this to be special.

9. I will add an ETA to the top of this post when all postcards have been mailed. If you don’t receive yours within a reasonable time, please let me know.

That’s it and that’s all! I can’t wait to hear from you.

All images used in adapting my covers are from Wikimedia Commons. The bow in the Lily Christmas cover is from this photo by Milad Mosapoor.

In for a Penny bibliography

This is just a partial bibliography of some of my favorite sources. If you have particular questions about any of my research, please e-mail me or comment! It’s a subject I never get tired of talking about.

1. Bread or Blood: a study of the agrarian riots in East Anglia in 1816, by A.J. Peacock. This book was an invaluable source on “what happened in ’16” and on the hardships of the English working class in the era. As E.P. Thompson says in his foreword, “Those who are interested in the history of the common people will read this book anyway. Those who sentimentalize Regency England need to read it most of all.” Got me on both counts!

Continue reading “In for a Penny bibliography”

IN FOR A PENNY short story

I have a tradition that every time I release a book, I celebrate by posting a free short story based on a suggestion from a reader about the characters from my previous book. This story was written for the release of A Lily Among Thorns, and it is for Jenni Simmons, who wanted to see more of Percy and Louisa’s love story. Continue reading “IN FOR A PENNY short story”

In for a Penny: Deleted Scene #3

This was my original ending. Leah, my editor, asked me to change it because it wasn’t fair that the poachers had to leave their homes. She was right, of course, and I think the new ending is much better. But pranks are always fun. (In this version, Amy did convince Edward that Penelope was in danger, so he witnessed the scene where Nev offers to free the prisoners if the poachers will help him save Penelope from Sir Jasper.) Continue reading “In for a Penny: Deleted Scene #3”