Saturday, December 23, 2017


This season is a favorite time of year for a lot of people.  While I miss having small children around, the good cheer is contagious. The house is not super-decorated, but the food will be special.  Old habits die hard. It’s true. Baked spiral ham with pineapple roasted rings, sweet yams, green bean casserole, cranberry dressing, and of course, pumpkin pie with ice cream for dessert. Hot cocoa and hot toddies complete the late afternoon with a super warming fire in the woodstove.  Brrrr…’s cold outside even here in central California.

I’m an East Coast native and don’t miss the harsh, cold weather that I used to love so much. To all of you, stay safe, and have a wonderful holiday.

Sophie, our Terrier-Chihuahua is cold and cuddles up in a too-big hat, but to me, she’s still adorable. She’s waiting for hubby, Ron, to start the fire.

I’m smiling at this picture of Sophie, a dog we rescued at age eight and a half. She’s ten years right now, and a real scaredy cat at any noise. That’s her favorite chair where she rests on top of the pillow. It’s hard to tell where she begins and the pillow ends. Such a sweetheart to brighten our days.

As for me, I’m glad 2017 will soon be over, and I’m looking forward to a healthy….key word here….New Year. Two arm surgeries behind me, and impatience at the slow recovery, I get antsy, but there’s a lot planned for 2018, with a new Book Six in the Duke Series, hopefully early next year. I’m so excited for this last of the series book, The Blue-Eyed Black-Hearted Duke. Of all my dukes created, I’m in love with him. Hope you will find it a sinner so worthy of redemption. Then working on three spy Regency novellas, and a contemporary. I will be sharing sneak peaks of my new characters next year on my fans page.

If you enjoy my novels and you’re looking for something for a book-lover friend, hop over to: and gift an e-mail book for only $2.99 each. Or go to: and order direct any of the five books. Click on the Send As A Gift icon, and you’re on your way.

Sincerely, I thank you for all your support this past year. Have a Merry, Merry Christmas and a Prosperous Happy New Year.


            Once in a while, in the middle of ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. IMG_2091Sophie 1.JPGot co

Thursday, December 07, 2017

ONCE UPON A DUKE by Sandra Masters

Once Upon a Duke  by Sandra Masters    
The Duke Series, Steamy Regency Romance

This author based her books on women’s issues and the effect on all manner of women during the Regency. In this case, it is—to use modern words—spousal abuse. Belief in the existence of a "rule of thumb" to excuse spousal abuse goes as far back as 1782.

Although there is no other written record of Buller making such a pronouncement, this so-called law inspired me to write Serena’s story.

For those of you who asked, my broken right arm and left rotator cuff surgeries have challenged my ability to type. I am on my way to recovery. If there’s any bad that brings good with it, I have time to read more. The power of positive thinking is amazing. As an author, there are times when I like to read the entirety of one of my past novels. In this case, my debut novel called out to me. I smiled and also sighed, my duke was so…unforgettable.

Our sizzling hero, Geoffrey Austen, Duke of Sutton, has been a rogue longer than he cared to remember. The marriage of his mother and father was not one of warmth and love, but rather he likened it to the polar regions of the planet. Annoyed at his mother’s constant insistence he finds a suitable wife and performs his duty by producing an heir, he cringes at the thought. The women she promenaded in front of him were exact replicas of her artificial, cold, calculating wiles.

Quite by accident, he meets the sister of a friend at a hunt, Lady Serena Worthington. The exotic raven-haired widow’s marriage was a nightmare until her despicable husband died in a duel. Vowing never to marry again, she fears intimacy with any man. Serena resides in a private house on her brother’s property. Free to explore her artistic talents, Serena is content to live an isolated existence except for the times when her brother requests she serves as his hostess for his social and political events.

Serena is not prepared for the onslaught of his suave advances as he requests she paint his portrait. The visits to her studio provide ample time for the couple to share conversations and intimate moments.  When he gifts her with a puppy, Adonis, her fate is sealed.

Excerpt:  Chapter Ten:
Serena has refused all advances until one night, restless and unfulfilled, Geoffrey goes to the lake for a cold swim, and finds Serena naked in the water under the moonlit sky. He teased her, and as she attempted to cover her nudity, he stripped and went into the water. She retreated. He followed. She turned, and in the full night’s moon, he discovered her secret.

He scooped her up into his arms and splashed his way to the grassy knoll, and sat her on the bench. The lantern light showed the marks on her back. He helped her into her chemise; then he placed his shirt tightly around her to calm the tremors. He stooped and rubbed her legs to get the blood circulating. He’d been a fool to keep her in the water for those few moments. “Come to me. I will not hurt you.” His arms encircled her shoulders, and he cradled her. “I offer you the warmth of my body, Serena. It is adequate for both of us.”
He pulled her close and nestled her head against his shoulder.

“Answer me, my sweet Serena. Are your scars the reason you will not give yourself to me?” He tilted her chin to him. “Did you think I would find you repulsive?”

“Yes.” Tears trickled down her cheeks.

Geoffrey no longer wanted to seduce her, but only to protect her from whoever harmed her.

“Your husband did this, did he not? If he were not already dead, I would kill him myself—a slow painful death.”

She sniffled. “You honor me with your vow.”

She raised one hand and placed it in the nest of fur on his chest. Her touch ignited strong emotions—fury—desire— compassion—sympathy, each one in combat with the others. He wanted retribution for the wrongs done to her, but vengeance would not be his.

Serena again sobbed. He rocked her in his arms while his lips tasted her salty tears. He kissed her temple. “Shush, love. Those scars do not make a difference to me. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever known, inside and out.”  His lips thinned in anger at the harm done to her beautiful body.
“Are your wounds the reason you come to the lake at night?”

“The freedom of the water makes me forget…for a short time.”

His Grace was a marvelous storyteller in his own right. Eventually, he took Serena on imaginary sensual travels all over the world. She fell under his spell. What woman could resist when he brings her the harem outfit so she could dance for him in his role as a sheik? Serena has fallen in love with Geoffrey, but he has only fallen in lust with the woman he calls, My Sultana.

“Excerpt:  Page 161
“I will create a story for us,” he whispered hoarsely. “Imagine yourself in my draped tent in the desert. There is a small brazier to provide light and warmth. Somewhere outside a woman sings a Turkish love song and strums a lute. Your belly moves and writhes. I’m driven mad with desire.” He sucked in a long breath.
“I am stripped to the waist in nomad fashion. There are satin cushions strewn along one side. Incense fills the air. I sit in the chair in the tent. You undulate before me, and your sensuous lithe movements promise an invitation of things to come. The dance escalates as you move and swirl in spiral steps. Faster, faster.”
Geoffrey licked his lips, watched her every motion. His body stiffened, he fought for control of the relentless passion. It forged through him like a raging mythic god.
Serena moved toward him.

His voice was soft as a warm desert wind that caressed and tempted. “Can you smell the incense, Serena?”


When she refused to become his mistress, they part. Her heart broken, but her resolve strong, she’d savor the beautiful memories of their lovemaking.

Upon Geoffrey’s return to London, he had an epiphany, and after finding the theatre women and others unsuitable, he returned to Serena—only to find she is gone! Her villainous brother  arranged for her betrothal to another man. The despicable gentleman, Lord LeBran, now held her captive on his remote fortress in the south, until their marriage in three weeks. LeBran’s only interest was her money.  The nefarious brother had told Geoffrey a monstrous lie which caused him to curse the day he ever met her. However, determine to be with Geoffrey or end her life, Serena does find a way to have a message delivered to the duke that she was a  prisoner and would love him either in this world or the next.

Now he believed she always loved him,  and sends a letter back to her to prepare for their marriage or his funeral. 


            Serena, an artist, and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets Geoffrey Austen, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love, and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.
         Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared shatters when he learns of her engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.
         Will Geoffrey’s gallantry prove he truly loves Serena?
         If he survives, will Serena surrender all to him?     AmazonUK   The Wild Rose Press

From the author:  I so enjoyed writing and rereading this book. As a debut novel, it set the pace for the rest of the Duke Series. Check out:

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Traveling in Australia continued with Kate Loveday

We were continuing to wend our way slowly north along the Pacific Highway up the coast of New South Wales with our caravan and our two dogs, Mimi and Lucy. We were on our adventure to ‘drop out’ of the real world for a while. For just how long we didn’t know; we planned to wander as our fancy took us – heading always north but making byways from the main tracks whenever something off the main road caught our interest.

Coff’s Harbour is a town located between Sydney and Brisbane. It’s known as the home of bananas, but it’s much more than that for the visitor, including fishing, scuba diving and rainforest walks. The Big Banana is an original Australian 'Big Thing' and has been an icon on the Pacific Highway on your way to Coffs Harbour for more than 40 years. A kitschy tourist attraction, it’s one of Australia's famous landmarks.

It’s also home to Dolphin Marine and the Pet Porpoise Pool, where you can get up close and personal with seals and dolphins. The Butterfly House has an indoor rain forest teeming with butterflies where you can walk right among the butterflies.
We were here in Coff’s for two reasons. One was to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and the surrounding countryside, which included some wonderful rain forests.

The other was to attend the wedding of our old friends Lorrie and her partner James.
First thing to do on arriving was to book in at the caravan park, find our site, and set up. We planned to stay a few days so Pete set about erecting the fully enclosed canvas annex on the side of the van, which was always a safe haven for the dogs when we needed to leave them alone.

The clear blue waters of the beach beckoned us, so as soon as the chores were finished it was time to change into our bathers and head down to the water for a swim. Mimi loved the water but Lucy was a bit more hesitant in those early days, especially if the waves at the edge were a bit stronger than usual. However, with a bit of coaxing she was soon enjoying the water as much as the more adventurous Mimi. And how they enjoyed racing around on the sand after their swim!

The next day, Saturday, was the day of the wedding. As we were traveling with limited space for formal clothes I had one outfit only that was suitable for the event, and as it was to be a formal church ceremony I had bought a hat especially for the occasion. It was a small confection made almost entirely from tiny white feathers. I’m not much of a hat person, but when I checked myself in the mirror I thought it looked quite chic, and I was glad that I’d bought it.

Like all weddings, the service was lovely, and it was moving to see our old friends taking the plunge into matrimony. Also like many services it was quite long, and we decided to stop by the caravan on the drive between the church and the reception venue in order to check that the dogs were okay.

All was well in the annex, and I went into the van to fill their water bowl again. While I was in there I caught sight of myself in the mirror and decided I didn’t need to wear the hat any longer, now that the church proceedings were over. I took it off and combed my hair out. Much more comfortable.

After seeing the dogs safely ensconced in the annex I hopped into the car and we headed to the reception. We spent a happy few hours with the bride and groom and their guests, and when it was all over we headed back to the caravan park.

When we unzipped the door to the annex we were surprised to see no dogs inside. The door to the van slightly open and I realized that in my hurry I had not closed it properly, and both dogs had taken themselves into the van,

When I stepped into the van it looked as if there had been a snowstorm. White flakes covered every bit of the floor.

I had left my hat on the bench, within reach of any determined dog! And now two dogs stared at me innocently from the seat where they lay.

I told you traveling with dogs is fun.
A Woman of Spirit

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Seven Little Words by Margaret Sutherland

Why dogs?
My latest novel, ‘Seven Little Words,’ releases on November 8th, 2017. That's when all the days, weeks and months of work come together. This is when the author offers his or her work to the world. In other words, this is it!

This time I've drawn on my training as a nurse and my interest in health issues to write a medical romance. Cathy Carruthers is a computer technician, but when her grandmother has an accident and is hospitalized, Cathy learns about the life of a busy hospital. This sparks her desire to follow a new career. Meanwhile, she is landed with her grandmother’s pets, including Pixel, a little dog with the heart of a lion.

‘Seven Little Words’ is not a doctor/nurse romance. The man who challenges Cathy’s romantic heart is a writer, constantly on the move as he researches material for his next novel. David prefers casual relationships. But he too has a change of course when he takes over the care of his father’s guide dog, Banquo. While the Labrador and the Chihuahua strike up an unlikely friendship, both Cathy and David find their emotions tugged in all directions as they learn about responsibility and caring. Banquo and Pixel charmed my heart and reminded me of the old stage adage, 'Never compete with children or dogs.’

People sometimes ask me why dogs play an important role in my romances. It’s not so hard to understand. A romance is about love—the finding, the losing, the eventual coming together of two people who are ready to commit, whatever the future may bring. What better symbol of attachment, devotion and unconditional love can you find than a faithful dog?

The dogs I have known over several decades have given me immeasurable pleasure. Big or small, pedigree or lucky dip, sweet or assertive, all have been my friends and companions. They have filled my life with laughter and love. No wonder I like to write about them!

Available today! 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

An Interview with Annalisa Russo

Welcome Annalisa Russo to the spot in the garden where we get to know the authors. She has a new book coming soon. All Hearts Come Home for Christmas

Tell us about your writing...

Do you plot or let the story unfold as you write? 
I started out using an outline, but quickly switched to plotting cards. I use 3x5 index cards: using 120 cards for my regular historical romances, divided into 3 acts, 20%, 60%, 20%. I’ve been tempted to buy Scrivener software, a project management tool for authors, but the tech knowledge required might be above my pay grade. Of course, I can also purchase “Scrivener for Dummies” along with the software if I decide to give it a try!

Do you have trouble saying goodbye to characters? 
Yes. For my Cavelli Angel Saga, I got so tied up in the characters that I couldn’t let gooooo. What started out as a trilogy became a quartet. Seth Truitt and Meg Cavelli, both children in the first three books, come back as adults in the last book of the series: Angel Boy. My fans are clamoring for more Cavelli family books. I’m considering a spin off featuring Meg Cavelli and her husband Seth in a female sleuth series since Meg got her ticket as a “lady dick” (i.e. female detective) in Angel Boy.

Do you have set times during the day that you write? 
I’m an early riser. My body clock was set from all the years of teaching in an intermediate school. My students arrived promptly at 7:25 am, so my alarm clock was always set for 5:00. My body clock hasn’t gotten the message that I can sleep later now.

How do you get to know your story characters better? 
I spend a lot of time on the external and internal profiles of the two main characters (sometimes for days). I never skip this step. I feel you must get to know your characters as real people before you know how they think and will act in any given situation. If you know what motivates them, your plot moves along briskly because plot is intertwined with characterization.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
Growing up in a large Italian family, my message practically wrote itself: love of family, the defining factor in a person’s development. The Cavellis are a close-knit family with loyalty and love for one another, an important element in today’s world as well as a hundred years ago.
Now we want to know more about you...

Who do you see as a hero in your life? My mother would fill that spot. My father died at forty-two leaving a wife and five kids the youngest at five years old and the oldest (me) at seventeen. Being a stay-at-home-mother all her life, my mother struggled to make enough money to support us. She did that very well, kept a clean house, food on the table, and was a wonderful role model. How she managed to keep it together and raise all five of us on her own is an inspirational story.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Hands down, no question, a teacher. I wanted to teach from the time I could read a book. But when I found I couldn’t support myself and three children on a teacher’s salary, I switched to another field, only to come back to teaching, my first love, years later. During those years, I wrote. Anything that struck my fancy: children’s books, short stories, etc. I call them my “under-the-bed-books.” Maybe someday I’ll take them out and see if anything is worth salvaging.

Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript? No, but my cat, Buster, featured in my new Christmas book: All Hearts Come Home for Christmas, has used my writing space as a bed a time or two. He lays all over any papers I might have left there and kicks them off the desk. There is always a mess to clean up before I attack the computer for the day.

What is your favorite comfort food? Anything Italian, or from a diner, like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. My favorite Italian meal is polenta and Italian sausage. When I make it, my kitchen smells like my grandmother’s.

What is your favorite time of year and why? 
From Thanksgiving to Christmas. I LOVE the holidays and had so much fun writing my Christmas book, I plan to do one every year! Our large family has expanded significantly over the years—34 members now and one in the oven. Traditionally, we always spend Christmas Eve together for good food, comradery, and joy in the season.

      And where can we find out more about you

To purchase All Hearts Come Home for Christmas

Friday, October 27, 2017

Drinking chocolate – Setting and Symbols

      Warm milk and a little cream on the stove.
     Add a dark chocolate candy bar. I used one that was 95% dark chocolate
     Add 100% dark chocolate powder
     Add a pinch of chili powder
     Whisk until frothy, pour into a cup, and top with whipped cream.

     This will be so thick you will be able to drink it with a spoon.  :)

When I first started writing, Falling in Love with Emma, I’m sure it was a “dark and stormy night,” because I thought about the French-style of drinking chocolate…a lot. Spoiler alert. It’s a typical fall day in Seattle, and I’ve just brewed a warm cup of drinking chocolate. Yum!  Anyway, back to the blog. In my story, I transported Emma and Björn back in time to 18th century Paris, on the eve of the French Revolution, where chocolate houses were almost as abundant as coffee cafés are in Seattle. For those who have read my books, they know that somewhere in the story, someone will mention their love of chocolate.  My novel, Falling in Love with Emma took it to a whole new level.  Although I knew the time and place, I wanted my readers to feel the atmosphere, or setting, as much as I did. The setting needed to be as important as the characters. After all, the setting would affect how the characters would react. Setting can enhance a character’s mood, or bring them down. Setting can help a character achieve their goal, or stand in the way.
This idea of setting as a character is never more apparent than in a disaster movie, involving fire, wind, or rain. There is a movie, Backdraft, with fire fighter, Kurt Russell, where he and his brother refer to fire as though it were a living, breathing, entity, unpredictable and capable of seeking revenge. This makes fighting fires feel  even more dangerous. On the lighter side, the movie Chocolate, with Johnny Depp, not only makes the symbol of chocolate a main character, but this confection, changes in appearance and brings people together.   
When you describe a setting or add symbols to your novel, you must always ask this question. How does it move the story forward? If you describe the wind or rain, it can’t be just because it sounds cool, there has to be a reason why it’s raining. How does your character respond to rain? Will her response help or hinder her as she tries to move forward? The same can be said for symbols. In Falling in Love with Emma, I have a scene where Emma and Björn are eating chocolate fondue. Yes, it can be a sensual dessert, with opportunities to feed each other strawberries dipped in chocolate, but that was not the reason I chose this dessert. Both Emma and Björn were on life’s treadmill. They were both in the friend-zone, without knowing how to escape. Björn, an Alaskan fisherman, was the type of person who grabbed food when he was hungry. He didn’t taste it, or to expand this idea, he didn’t taste life. Emma was an amazing baker, capable of creating swoon-worthy desserts, and yet, she never took the time to appreciate her talent. Fondue was the perfect choice for this couple. Fondue takes time.    

Please check out book three in the Matchmaker Café series, Falling in Love with Emma and let me know what you think. I have posted the recipes found in my novel on my website.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sandra Masters -Welcome to Romance

Latest News from Sandra and an intriguing blog about Killer Clothing:   All the Rage In the 19th Century Arsenic dresses, Mercury hats, and flammable clothing! 
Hello and Hope this finds you well.

Many of you have been kind to contact me about my two surgeries within the past few months. Suffice it to say, it was “ouchville,” but am now on my way to recovery. In five days, I graduate to a less cumbersome splint. Thanks for your kind words.

Had a few signing events   with Anne Donovan of Branches Books and Gifts in Oakhurst, below in August.

Then the Authors Reveal Their Secrets presentation at the Friends of the Oakhurst Library event in July. Linda Lee Kane, Vicki Thomas, Sandra Masters, Kris Lynn and Cora Ramos.

And a TV interview by local Channel KSEE 24 with Kris Lynn and myself. It was a hoot and a holler. You can click on the actual interview on my website at: on the home page.

I am working on edits for Book Six, The Blue-Eyed Black-Hearted Duke, of the Duke Series with the hope a contract will be offered.  It is a departure from my traditional Regency Romance since it is a Regency Fantasy Supernatural. Woke up one night after it was a halfway work-in-process and I had a vision of the supernatural creatures in a stained glass window.  Viola! Revisions made it a reality. More about this in the future. My dearest hope is that it will be available for print in 2017. 

This is my inspirational meme by Kris Lynn - Kristallynn Designs.
For all of my books, I create visionary graphics to allow me to escape my own world into my characters’.

               Sandra Masters, Historical author.
Sandra Masters Author Page - See all her books here:
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Now to some fascinating information. 

In all of my five Regency Historical Romance books, I do explain the fashions of the day and what my heroines and heroes wore.

In search of another topic, I came across a headline that indicated that fashion had its price and sometimes it was DEATH! It was sometimes referred to as Killer Clothing.

My shock was doubled since I spent at least twenty-five years in the fashion industry in New York City working for various textile manufacturers and never had a clue! Woe is me.

Killer Clothing Was All the Rage In the 19th Century
Arsenic dresses, Mercury hats, and flammable clothing caused a lot of pain.

Did you know that while sitting at home one afternoon in 1861, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, caught fire. Her burns were so severe that she died the next day. According to her obituary, the fire had started when “a match or piece of lighted paper caught her dress.” At the time, this wasn’t a peculiar way to die. In the days when candles, oil lamps, and fireplaces lit and heated American and European homes, women’s wide hoop skirts and flowing cotton and tulle dresses were a fire hazard, unlike men’s tighter-fitting wool clothes.
It wasn’t just dresses: Fashion at this time was riddled with dangers. Socks made with aniline dyes inflamed men’s feet and gave garment workers sores and even bladder cancer. Lead makeup damaged women’s wrist nerves so that they couldn’t raise their hands. Celluloid combs, which some women wore in their hair, exploded if they got too hot. In Pittsburgh, a newspaper reported that a man with a celluloid comb lost his life “While Caring for His Long Gray Beard.” In Brooklyn, a comb factory exploded. In fact, some of the most fashionable clothing of the day was made using chemicals that are today considered too toxic to use—and it was the producers of this clothing, rather than the wearers, who suffered most of all!


Many people think that “mad as a hatter” refers to the mental and physical side effects hat makers endured from using mercury in their craft. Though scholars dispute whether this is actually the origin of the phrase, many hatters did develop mercury poisoning. And even though the phrase has a certain levity to it, and while the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was silly and fun, the actual maladies hat makers suffered were no joke—mercury poisoning was debilitating and deadly.

In the 18th and 19th century, a lot of men’s felt hats were made using hare and rabbit fur. In order to make this fur stick together to form felt, hatters brushed it with mercury. “It was extremely toxic,” says Alison Matthews David, author of Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present. “Especially if you inhale it. It goes straight to your brain.”
One of the first symptoms was neuromotor problems, like trembling. In the hat-making town of Danbury, Connecticut, this was known as the “Danbury shakes.”

Then there were the psychological problems. “You would become very shy, very paranoid,” Matthews David says. When medical examiners visited hatters to document their symptoms, hatters “thought they were being observed, and they would throw down their tools and get angry and have outbursts.” Many hatters also developed cardio-respiratory problems, lost their teeth, and died at early ages.

Although these effects were documented, many viewed them as the hazards that one had to accept with the job. And besides, the mercury only affected the hatters—not the men who wore the hats, who were protected by the hats’ lining.

“There was always kind of a bit of a pushback from the hatters themselves,” Matthews David says of these dangerous working conditions. “But really, honestly, the only thing that made [mercury hat making] disappear was the fact that men’s hats went out of fashion in the 1960s. That’s really when it dies. It was never banned in Britain.”


Arsenic was everywhere in Victorian Britain. Although it was known to be used as a murder weapon, the cheap, natural element was used in candles, curtains, and wallpaper, writes James C. Whorton in The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play.

 Because it dyed fabric bright green, arsenic also ended up in dresses, gloves, shoes, and artificial flower wreaths that women used to decorate their hair and clothes.
For example, in 1861, a 19-year-old artificial flower maker named Matilda Scheurer—whose job involved dusting flowers with green, arsenic-laced powder—died a violent and colorful death. She convulsed, vomited, and foamed at the mouth. Her bile was green, and so were her fingernails and the whites of her eye. An autopsy found arsenic in her stomach, liver, and lungs.

Articles about Scheurer’s death and the plight of artificial flower makers raised public awareness about arsenic in fashion. The British Medical Journal wrote that the arsenic-wearing woman “carries in her skirts poison enough to slay the whole of the admirers she may meet with in half a dozen ball-rooms.” In the mid-to-late 1800s, sensational claims like these began to turn public opinion against this deadly shade of green.

Public concern over arsenic helped phase it out of fashion—Scandinavia, France, and Germany banned the pigment (Britain did not).
The move away from arsenic was hastened by the invention of synthetic dyes, which made it “easy to let arsenic go,” according to Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada.

This raises interesting questions about fashion today. While arsenic dresses might seem like bizarre relics of a more brutal age, killer fashion is still very much in vogue. In 2009, Turkey banned sandblasting—the practice of spraying denim with sand to give it a fashionable distressed look—because workers were developing silicosis from breathing in sand.
“It’s not a curable disease,” Matthews David says of silicosis. “If you have sand in your lungs it will kill you.”
Yet when a dangerous production method is banned in one country—and when the demand for the clothing that method produces remains high—then production typically moves somewhere else (or continues despite the ban).

In the 1800s, men who wore mercury hats or women who wore arsenic-laced clothing and accessories might have seen the people who produced these items on the streets of London, or read about them in the local paper. But in a globalized economy, many of us don’t see the deadly effects that our fashion choices have on others.

Mauve boots dyed with the new synthetic color containing arsenic, picric acid, and other toxic chemicals, English (early 1860s) (Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, photograph by Ron Wood)
For example, there’s the achingly narrow shoes worn by women to slip into a “beauty ideal,” and for men and women alike there was mauve footwear tinged with the first synthetic dye. Created by William Henry Perkin in 1856, mauve was revolutionary in influencing color tastes. It was unfortunately incredibly toxic, made with arsenic, picric acid, and other harmful chemicals. Around the same time tortoises and elephants were being spared in making hair combs, but the manufactured celluloid was explosive. Ballerinas draped in tulle were pirouetting into gas lights on the stage at such a frequency it was called a “holocaust.” Even the high heel, which had come back into vogue in the late 1850s, deliberately threw women off-balance as part of a very confined, yet alluring, form of femininity.

The 19th century shoe demonstrates the movement over the era from personal relationships with independent artisans to industries like the 700 embroiderers who labored on boots in the factory of François Pinet. Matthews David points out how with these elaborate shoes, “the same object exists in both spaces,” moving from the unsanitary, debilitating conditions of the unventilated factories to the foot of a strutting member of the upper class. Likewise all those gleaming, shined boots were not kept clean in the dirty 19th century by the rich wearers, but by the numerous, poor shoeshine boys who worked the streets for scraps of money.

Murphy, photograph Arnold Matthews) Hands damaged by arsenic dyes, lithography from an 1859 medical journal (courtesy Wellcome Library)

Perhaps the most evocative fatal fashion trend of the 19th century is the color green. Before inventor Carl Wilhelm Scheele came along near the end of the 18th century, there was no color fast green, only the option to do a blue overlay with yellow or vice versa. By mixing arsenic and copper, Scheele developed a pigment that would hold, whether in wallpaper, paintings, or clothing. It also happened to look fantastic under natural and new gas light, an important duality for the time. By the mid-19th century, when, as Matthews David notes “nature was disappearing from the environment,” this “Emerald Green” was incredibly popular in artificial flowers. It was also highly toxic, even deadly, and it’s no coincidence that Baudelaire titled his book of tormented poems Les Fleurs du Mal — The Flowers of Evil — just as the death of a young artificial florist was being investigated.

Becky Little is a writer focusing on history. Published October 16, 2017
Fatal Victorian Fashion and the Allure of the Poison Garment ;
Sources: Wickipedia, Internet
In no way does this author claim originality for this information.

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