Welcome to my stop on Regan Walker's Racing With The Wind Online Book Tour. Regan has prepared a guest post for today so please make sure to leave a comment or question below for her. Please also make sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter her contest. You can follow her tour here.
What I Learned About Empress Josephine and Roses While Researching Racing with the Wind by Regan Walker
While doing research on Napoleon and his Empress Josephine for RACING WITH THE WIND, I discovered some interesting facts about the passion for roses shared by the French and the English.
While Napoleon was waging war against Britain, Josephine was spending vast sums of money collecting new varieties of roses for her garden at Chateau Malmaison outside Paris. She enlisted her husband's aid in the pursuit of her hobby so that even at the height of the war in the early 1800's, Napoleon was sending money to England to pay for his wife's rose plant bills. And, the British Admiralty was allowing ships to pass through its naval blockade to deliver new roses to Malmaison.
Josephine further elevated the stature of the rose by commissioning Pierre-Joseph Redoute, a former court painter of Marie Antoinette, to paint a series of rose portraits. This passion of Josephine’s resulted in a great demand for new roses so that 19th century hybridizers began crossing repeat-blooming Asian varieties with the hardier, and more fragrant European native roses. Between 1840 and 1900, over 4,000 hybrid repeat-flowering roses were introduced—and this is the kind of rose we grow today.
Although Josephine didn't live to see and enjoy them, they became the legacy of her great passion for roses. I found that fascinating. And though it is represented in only one line in Racing with the Wind, (where Hugh tells Mary in Paris that Josephine shared her passion for roses), it was wonderful knowing the story behind that line.
Racing With the Wind by Regan Walker
· All Romance
· Apple iBooks
· Barnes & Noble
Blurb: The intrepid daughter of an earl leaves Regency London for the Parisian court of Louis XVIII, where she finds adventure, mystery, and above all, love.
THE NIGHTHAWK Hugh Redgrave, marquess of Ormond, was warned. Prinny had dubbed Lady Mary Campbell “the Swan,” but no ordinary man could clip her wings. She was a bluestocking hellion, an ill advised match by every account. Luckily, he sought no bride. His work lay on the continent, where he’d become legend by stealing war secrets from Boney. And yet, his memories of Lady Mary riding her stallion were a thorn in his mind. He was the son of a duke and in the service of the Prince Regent…and he would not be whole until he had won her hand.
THE SWAN It was unheard of for a Regency debutante to postpone her first season, yet Lady Mary had done just that. Far more interested in politics than a husband, she had no time for foolishness or frippery. Already she had assisted her statesman uncle in Paris, and she swore to return to the court of Louis XVIII no matter the danger. Like her black stallion, Midnight, she would always run free. Only the truest heart would race beside her.
Excerpt: Prologue for RACING WITH THE WIND:
When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.
The outskirts of Paris, 1811
A tall figure stood among the trees, another shadow in the gloomy night. Swirling mist covered the ground around him like a soft gray carpet. A chateau loomed ahead, a dim monument in the light of a pale half moon that revealed only shades of gray.
He waited for a drifting cloud to obscure the moon’s faint glow before daring to steal across the wide expanse of lawn. His boots made no sound as he crossed the stone terrace and became one with the wall of the elegant mansion. There he paused and listened. All was quiet save the rustle of the leaves stirred by the gentle breeze.
Looking up, he peered though the mask that covered his face and fixed his eyes on his goal, a window high above. Barely disturbing the mist, he reached for a thick vine and climbed.
His dark hair was loose at his nape and he was clad all in black, moving like a wraith. The clouds continued to drift in the night sky, uncovering the half moon. A glimmer of silver reflected from his chest where he wore a brace of pistol daggers; the weapons were unique and of a French design, and he had used them before to great effect. A smile came to his lips as he considered the legend that had spread about him—a larger than life figure who successfully stole secrets from places believed safe from intrusion. They called him L’Engoulevent, the Nighthawk. He came only at night, swooping down and disappearing before anyone roused. An occasional glimpse by a servant or a guard had provided only partial descriptions. Some said he flew with a cape. Others said he wasn’t human at all but rather a dark and ghostly apparition. But the Nighthawk was very real. Tonight his target was the home of a French general believed to be the author of Napoleon’s plans to invade Russia.
Perched above the ground, clinging to the vine, he reached for the edge of the leaded window. The latch gave way with a quiet click. He slipped through the opening and dropped into a low crouch on the thick rug. Surveying the bedroom before him, he could see the sleeping form of a young woman in a white poster bed, her dark hair spread upon the pillow. She did not stir as he moved past her and toward his destination.
At the end of the hall he located the study reported to hide the secret documents he sought. Cautiously he entered the spacious room lined with traditional dark wood cabinets and tall book-filled shelves, and stealthily moved to the carved wood desk facing a marble fireplace. Reaching into his shirt he pulled out a small black velvet case. Inside were the delicate tools that had opened the most secure locks in France.
Working with only the pale light from the windows behind him, he opened the locked drawers and captured his prize. Placing the correspondence and map inside his shirt, he surveyed the room. He knew there would be more.
His gaze came to rest on an old painting of a French military officer in dress uniform hanging over the fireplace. The officer’s white breeches reflected the room’s meager light, but he cared not for the painting, only for the secrets it might guard. Silently he crossed the room and lifted the gilded frame. The cast-iron safe set behind it made him smile as if encountering an old friend.
He set the painting on the floor to once again work his magic with the lock. Again he was successful. Ignoring the velvet jewelry cases and money, he reached instead for the letters and papers. Not bothering to decipher the words in the dim light, he added these documents to those in his shirt, closed the safe, and returned the painting to its original position. His mission complete, he crept down the hall to the bedroom where he had first entered the house.
The young woman stirred in her sleep, restless in her dreams. He should have departed without disturbing her, but something made him pause. Perhaps it was her beauty. Her face, with its delicate features and well-shaped lips, was turned slightly to the side. Upon closer inspection, she looked to be about eighteen.
He bent to hover for a moment, breathing in the fragrance of lavender. Her lips were warm as he bestowed his kiss. He knew he was keeping alive the legend, and there was no benefit to a legend when one’s purpose was to remain unknown. Yet, he could not resist. There were few enough pleasures in the life of duty that he’d chosen for himself.
Her pale eyes opened slowly, heavy with sleep. Placing his finger on her lips to quiet any words, he whispered to her in the perfect speech of the French aristocracy, “I leave you my kiss and a wish for a good life, beautiful mademoiselle.”
She gasped as she took in his masked appearance, but then a faint smile came to her lips. “The Nighthawk,” she whispered, and reached for him, entwining her fingers in the hair at his nape.
Without saying a word, he gently pulled her hands from his neck and moved to the window and back into the night. He had accomplished his mission. The Nighthawk might be a thief, but he was not a despoiler of innocents.
More’s the pity.
Author Regan Walker's Bio:
As a child, Regan loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls. But by the time she got to college, more serious pursuits were encouraged. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law. Regan says, “I became a lawyer because I thought it would be better to be a hammer than a nail.” Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the "Crown" on its subjects. Hence, her first romance novels involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool. Regan says her stories will always involve adventure as well as love.
Regan lives in San Diego with her Golden Retriever, Link, who she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.
Regan Walker Online:
Please don't forget to leave a comment or question below for Regan and enter the Rafflecopter form below to enter her giveaway. You can follow her tour here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway