Spotlight Reviews: Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped BareWould you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as eight authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share.

It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. Thisscholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

Editorial Reviews:

“…a fascinating new book…” –Mail On Sunday and Daily Mail,U.K., April 8, 2018

“A balance of both entertaining and educationalreading in equal measure” -Dr. Roxanne O’Neill

Other Reviews:

Five Star Ratings

“This collection of eight historical essays, all written by women, gives great insight into how sexuality shaped history. , down to the influence of Victorian prostitution by Hunter S. Jones, .

This provocative book is one you can’t put down. Beginning with Emma Haddon-Wright’s essay on Lady Godiva, which adds a refreshing feminist vibe to an old story, you’ll be gripped by the very human true stories of sexuality and the cultural impact of each era. Following Ms Haddon-Wright essay, Annie Whitehead expertly shares the true story of an Anglo-Saxon menage that cost a King his crown. Jessica Cale gives insight into Courtly Love, Medieval thoughts on LGBTQ, and how their thinking was more progressive than I ever imagined.

Maryanne Coleman explains how complicated Tudor marriages were, and Judith Arnopp does not disappoint when she examines the probability of a tryst between Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Wyatt. Gayle Hulme makes us see Mary, Queen of Scots as a very real, complicated woman.

Dr Beth Lynne unravels the mystery of the monarchy and succession of the British Crown. Hunter S. Jones ends the work with a compelling essay on the global impact of Victorian prostitution. She helps us understand the women and men who had careers in the world’s oldest profession. Her essay and the Godiva story bind seamlessly into bringing the stories full-circle.

I felt that the work is well written and researched. Each essay could be it’s own book, but this format gives us a better perspective of how British sexuality shaped women and gender roles into the 20th century. The biggest surprise was the story of Nashville in the Civil War. Well done, ladies.” -Review by ocmd on Amazon

 

***

“Sexuality and It’s Impact on History was a great peek into the history of some very powerful ladies who helped shape the female sexual role throughout British history.
Author Haddon’s accounts of Lady Godiva were an eye-opener along with other ladies playing high roles in the royal courts. I enjoyed this collection and will often go back for future reference. These women portrayed were not just sex objects but women of power in their own right.

As a writer of erotica, I found valuable information here on the roles in sexuality during those time periods.” -Review on Amazon by 2DreamReader

***

“Very intriguing read. I love how author Hunter S. Jones dealt with the subject of Victorian Prostitution without disparaging the ladies who often choose that lifestyle. Sizzling and entertaining. I read one story every night in bed and highly recommend.” -Review by LoveToRead on Amazon

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Find out more about the Authors of Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare HERE

Amazon Link of Book HERE

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Medieval Passion, Arthurian Obsession & Courtly Love with Jessica Cale

Today Author Jessica Cale talks with me about her collaboration on Sexuality and its Impact on British History, about her Medieval passion, Arthurian obsession and her fascination with courtly love. -Stephanie M. Hopkins

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When Hunter S. Jones asked me to be a contributor to Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare, I was thrilled. This was the kind of opportunity I always dreamt of when I was a kid. (Yes, I was a weird kid.) When everyone else wanted to be doctors, astronauts, and entertainers, I was at home watching History’s Mysteries and wanting to be Leonard Nimoy. Everyone else knew him as Spock, but to me he was the host of my favorite show on the History Channel.

corn palace

Behold, the Corn Palace

From there, things progressed as you might imagine. Medieval history was my passion, and I decided to go to school for it. Growing up in Minnesota, the closest castle was the Corn Palace, so I knew if I wanted to study the Middle Ages properly, I was going to have to get on a plane. Fortunately, I was accepted to my first choice school–Swansea University in Wales. As far as I’m concerned, there is no better place to study British medieval history than Wales. With more castles per square mile than anywhere else on earth, it was my idea of heaven.

My first degree went so by so fast I barely felt it. I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers, in particular the late Ifor Rowlands, who supervised my undergraduate thesis. It was Ifor who suggested a way for me to combine my love of Arthurian literature with the history behind it: I would compare the stories with the Life of William Marshal.

coat of arms

William Marshal’s coat of arms as Earl of Pembroke. Look familiar?

Even during his lifetime, William Marshal was widely regarded as the greatest knight in the world. His life had a lot of interesting parallels to the Lancelot of legend, and in my thesis, I made the argument that the depictions of Lancelot coming out of Marie de Champagne’s court (most notably that from Chrétien de Troyes) were directly inspired by Marshal himself. He was a rock star of the High Middle Ages–handsome, noble, and his prowess was second to none. He was the tutor and companion to Henry the Young King, the eldest son of Henry II, and was rumored to have had an affair with Henry’s wife, Margaret of France. Whether or not he did, no one’s sure, but it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the hottest gossip of the day popping up in the stories told around court.

Marie de Champagne’s court is best remembered as the unofficial birthplace of the idea of courtly love. At the very least, it is where Andreas Capellanus wrote De Amore, or The Art of Courtly Love, the entertaining, often bonkers, and nevertheless revealing treatise on the ideal and practice of courtly love in the Middle Ages.

In The Art of Courtly Love, Capellanus lays out a number of rules for being in love. Some of them are common practice, but other have changed some over the years. For example, Capellanus argues that jealousy is a good thing and that love cannot and should not exist within marriage.

real castle

A photo I took at Pembroke Castle, William Marshal’s residence as Earl of Pembroke

As an Arthurian obsessive and a Historical Romance author, I have always been fascinated by the idea of courtly love, so when Hunter asked if I would like to be involved with her book, I jumped at the chance to examine it further. One thing that struck me as particularly interesting was the discovery that in spite of common belief and even Capellanus’s recommendations, people did marry for love.

In fact, according to Gratian, you couldn’t be married without it. Three things were required to make a marriage: love, sex, and consent. That’s right–consent. Although forced medieval marriages is a popular trope in historical dramas, in practice, the Church viewed consent as a crucial component of any marriage. Yes, people could feel pressured to marry by parents or just circumstance, but that was the exception rather than the rule. The Church frowned on marriages made only for material gain. Procreation was not the only purpose of marriage, and people also married for love and companionship as they do today.

Love in the Middle Ages was not so very different than it is now, and is it any wonder? While the world changes, human nature does not, and we have a lot more in common with our medieval ancestors than you might guess. I cover a lot of ground in my chapter from common law marriages and annulments to sex, homosexuality, and contraception. Did you know that most of the medieval churches in London were built with the profits of prostitution? True story. It was tolerated and licensed by the Church. Surprise! Along with facts like that, I found recipes for herbal abortifacients, sex magic practices involving fish (what?), a gay king (it’s not the one you’re thinking of), and transgender individuals more or less accepted in society. The more you look into it, the more you find that the Middle Ages weren’t as “medieval” as we’ve been told.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading all about it with me in my chapter in Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare.

Jessica ColeJessica Cale is a historian, editor, and Historical Romance author. Originally from Minnesota, she earned her B.A. (Hons) in Medieval History and MFA in Creative Writing from Swansea University while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History and you can visit her website .

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1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped BareSexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as seven authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share.

It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

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Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

the-girl-on-the-train-by-s-j-boltonEVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My Thoughts:

Psychological thrillers give you a deeper look into the human mind and the actions of people who are tested to their mental limits and the unthinkable lengths they go to. They feel their motivations and actions are justified in some sick, dark twisted way. Much of this is explored in this story.

Rachel is a pitiful, lonely, sad and a heartbroken woman who is dependent on alcohol. As the story builds you see her losing control or what is perceived as her losing control. People who have personal experience with alcoholics know their minds play tricks on them and they are often times delusional, paranoid and display erratic behavior. They lose sense of what is real and what is not.  Their vision of reality is obscured with their brain saturated with alcohol-if you will. The author of this story portrayed this with detailed imagery and clarity. Which perfectly built tension in the most extraordinary way.

With the twist and turns in the plot, you feel yourself being swept up in the dysfunctionality of the character’s inner struggles, outer turmoil and their actions. When you think you have the plot figured out, there is a surprisingly new development -although I did have my suspicions as I began to see a pattern forming. The story does keeps a reader on edge at all times and the need to keep reading to find out what happens next.

I have to admit when I first started reading this story, I was a bit hesitate to finish it. I was afraid the alternating point of views would be too distracting due to the dark complexity of the content but I quickly adapted. I didn’t feel any sort of sympathy towards the characters except for Megan. Although her life was a deeply disturbed one and she was no innocent, you couldn’t help feel sorry for her. She did not deserve her fate.

If I had read this type of story two and a half years ago, I probably would have given it two stars. Not because it wasn’t well written but because of its darkness and utter depressive story-line. I think one has to be in a right set of mind to jump into this one. I was prepared to hate it right away but glad I picked it up when I did and stuck it out and gave the subject matter consideration.

I have rated this book four stars.

************

 

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. I read this book last year as a buddy read with a few fellow book reviewers. I needed to write my thoughts about the story but I had put it in the back of my mind. I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to go with it. The months passed and I had forgotten about it. Writing reviews lately has been tough for me. This could be for several reasons. One is my disappointment in the market and two is this year has not been a great start of reading for me.

Last night, I was in my bedroom sorting clothes and thinking of an old friend’s drinking problem and then my mind turns to a train sounding it’s horn we often here outside our neighborhood. How strange to be thinking of those two things back to back and at that time. Then it hit me, I haven’t written my review for The Girl on The Train and I know exactly what I want to write! Ha! Strange isn’t it?

Those life moments and circumstances can give you unlikely inspiration at the oldest times…

Stephanie M. Hopkins

*This story has certainly given many different attitudes towards it and different perspectives. Below is a couple of fellow book bloggers opinions.

A Literary Vacation’s review HERE

2 Kids and Tired Book’s review HERE

 

 

Book Review: Ruler of The Night by David Morrell

ruler-of-the-night1885. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

**********

My Thoughts:

When I have presented Morrell’s De Quincey novels to various readers and friends-they had never heard of him. Thomas de Quincey was an English 19th century writer. At a young age he ran away from home and became addicted to opium. In the mid Victorian era in England, one was able to walk into a chemist’s shop and purchase the drug without a prescription from doctors. These types of dangerous drugs were used for making home remedies… de Quincey wrote a story called, Confessions of an Opium-Eater where Morrell draws a lot of his inspiration for his trilogy. Ruler of the Night is his third and final installment and is a fine ending to what is an outstanding Victorian mystery story.

The English Railroad during this era was a popular means of travel and the brutal murder that occurs on a train in the beginning of the story sets the tone for another intriguing mystery.

It was a true delight to read about Thomas de Quincey, his Daughter-Emily, Ryan and Becker-who are two detectives- and their dangerous adventures in finding a murderer. Their process of solving murder crimes is extraordinary and entertaining.

Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas de Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest!

I have rated this story four stars and obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Manic Monday & Bookish Delights

me-iiThis weekend was fantastic. It’s not often I can just totally chill and do what I want and I can’t say that I felt foreboding that Monday was drawing near. Though the first day of the week tends to be manic, I was quite looking forward to it. Why? This weekend I was able to get lots of reading time in, drank lots of tea, watched a few shows on Netflix, and set up a couple of blog posts. Now I know that we have to get back to the work week, which leaves us very little time for reading. But, at least we can talk about the books we’ve been enjoying! There is that. *smiles*

This past Saturday, I was checking my emails and saw that I got approved for a review copy of, Ruler of the Night by David Morrell (book description below). “David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.” (bio from goodreads).

His Opium-Eater (Thomas De Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest!

The first book is, Murder as a Fine Art. The second, Inspector of the Dead. You can find these books on Amazon and goodreads. When the third, Ruler of the Night was announced, I was so very excited and wanted to get my hands on a review copy. Badly. Grateful I was able too! I am hoping to get to it this week. I highly recommend them.

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. It is always a treat to talk about bookish things with you all. Be sure to check out my interview with award winning author Lee Davis at indieBRAG. Today, I talk with him about his graphic designing and his process. I highly recommend you read the interview. It’s brilliant and insightful. You might learn something.

Oh, I almost forgot! A few of my fellow book bloggers and I are buddy reading, Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister-about the first female Pinkerton detective-and I discovered a show called The Pinkertons on Netflix! How cool is that?!

This week is going to be another great discussion in all things books and writers from my fellow bloggers and myself. On Friday, I will be sharing much about that. So stay tuned!

Cheers!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

ruler-of-the-night

The notorious Opium-Eater returns in the sensational climax to David Morrell’s acclaimed Victorian mystery trilogy.

1855. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

“Ruler of the Night is a riveting blend of fact and fiction which, like master storyteller David Morrell’s previous De Quincey novels, “evokes Victorian London with such finesse that you’ll hear the hooves clattering on cobblestones, the racket of dustmen, and the shrill calls of vendors” (Entertainment Weekly).

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Cover Crush: The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page

Cover Crush banner

the-worthington-wifeLady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England’s bright, young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancé’s legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.

The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia’s plans as well as Cal’s secrets—proves that passion is ambition’s greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.

My thoughts on the cover and premise:

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I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit I first judge a book by its cover.

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As a rule of mine, I generally do not read romance novels. For various reasons I won’t get into here today. However, this cover and premise caught my eye. I know many people would ask why. There-I’m sure-are many similar romance stories like this one. Or maybe there is something that sets this book apart. When one opens a book, we can only hope that there is…

This story is also a period piece, so that draws me in some and the fact that I like the era. Another thing, I find reading about impulsive marriages interesting. I am always curious to the reasons why we rush into things and I am always on a lookout for something original to analyze. I know that sounds, “Geekish” but there you have it.

My moods about cover art vary at times, so today I like this cover and maybe I will think differently another day. The cover is appealing in the sense of time and place. The woman’s dress is stunning and I love the chair she is sitting on. As I look at the picture of the estate, I think, “I could live there!”

I am taking a serious chance with this book and adding it to my reading list. Let’s see if it draws out that passion, the unconventional American personality, a woman’s bold aspirations of that era and if she withstands Cal’s darkest vendetta.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Check out her latest here.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush: 

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

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Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

i-see-you-ii

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

**********

Three sentences that grabbed me in the book description not mentioned above:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

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My Thoughts:

How much privacy do you think we really have? With social media-it’s next to none. Imagine opening a newspaper and finding your picture shown big as a day on it with no explanation. There are no words to describe how one would feel. Or is there? Did Clare Mackintish accomplish that goal in, I See You?

I am absolutely fascinated with psychological thrillers. Why? I am curious about the human condition and what makes people tick. What motivates them to commit the acts they do. I do- however- think there is a fine line writers should not cross in this genre. Some things are too dark and disturbing for the average reader to venture to or for anyone for that matter. Clare Mackintosh is one of the few writers who can get into the mind of a psychopath or sociopath-if you will and stay in the boundaries just enough to not leave you feeling physically ill. She gives you the right amount of tension and chill factor to leave you totally creeped out. She has you thinking about just how much information do you put out there and what could happen. The ramifications in this story are mind-boggling and so intense!

I love how she has you thinking throughout the whole story-guessing-who is the perp. Who is the mastermind behind these unnerving and horrible acts? I was quite surprised the end but started to have my suspicions about a little over halfway through. I admired how she ended the story and I wanted more! I would also like to mention I was really intrigued with how the detectives handled the case and their process.

Be sure to check out I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh as well! Fabulous read.

I rated this book four and a half stars!

I received an ARC Copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Book Publishing Information:
Berkley Publishing Group/Berkley/Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 04 Apr 2017

Stephanie M. Hopkins