What is a Tory, anyway?

Or for that matter, what’s a Whig? 

They’re both good questions, but I think, even in distant America, “Whig” is a vague term, despite the fact that we once had Whigs of our own.  But the British word “Tory” has always been loaded.  The image above gives you a rough idea of what revolutionary Americans thought of them, using the elimination method the French called รก la lanterne! or hang them from the nearest Liberty Tree.  But really, even in 21st century America, the word Tory just sounds like a snotty, brandy-sniffing aristocrat, the Powers That Be.  I remember, back in high school, when I once saw Tories defined as Catholic rebels against the king.  It left me scratching my head. 

The word Tory started out as slang for an outlaw, with a layer of cheap racial shot to boot. 

When we watch British historical drama, Americans are confused about the difference between a Tory and a Whig.  I think even some of the writers of Regency period romances don’t really understand it.  It isn’t surprising; it’s hard enough sometimes to understand the difference between a Democrat and a Republican, particularly because, at this moment in time, our two parties are undergoing a seismic shift, though not for the first time.  People forget that the political party that gets the overwhelming number of African-American votes in this nation was, for a century, the party of slavery and Jim Crow.  But in 1900, it would have been nearly impossible to find a black man who didn’t vote Republican. 

Something similar has occurred over the course of the last three centuries in Britain with Whigs and Tories.  In the period I write about, the Regency, roughly 1790 to 1820, the Tories were the party of King and Stability, while the Whigs were the party of Parliament and Change.  Even then that’s a very, very broad brush.

During the entirety of the Regency the Whigs were out of power, an opposition party, but throughout the 1700s they were calling the shots – it was the Whigs who put a foreigner on the throne, George I, a Hanoverian who couldn’t even speak English, because he was a Protestant and therefore acceptable to them.  In that period, there wasn’t much concern for Catholic civil rights in the Whig party. 

I’m going to make this pill as easy as possible to swallow, but you won’t get any of this without a brief thrill ride through British history.  It begins with the bloody English Civil War.  When Cromwell won it, he had the Stuart king, Charles I, beheaded, in 1649, and ruled for more than a decade as “Lord Protector.”  When England got fed up with the grim reign of Cromwell and his Puritans, they put the son of Charles I on the throne, in the Restoration, though they remained a Protestant country.  Charles II was a gay blade, with more mistresses and bastard children than the stars in the sky, but no legitimate heir except his brother.  Charles believed in religious freedom, but he was a Catholic in his heart.  Unfortunately his brother James, who came to the throne as James II when Charles died, wasn’t a Catholic on the quiet, as the wise Charles – he was belligerently open about it.  The first shots in the new war of religion were fired within six months of his coronation.  James was a lousy king and a major pill, with all the diplomatic finesse of a Hun.  He was tossed off the throne in favor of his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange.  (Charles II wisely had his two nieces, Mary and Anne, raised as Anglicans.)  Parliament decreed that no Catholic could sit on the British throne.  The men who engineered all this were the Whigs, and the 1700s was the great age of their power. 

Along with the Whigs, there were already Tories around.  Since before the death of Charles I, a “tory” was a brutal and murderous Irish highwayman.  In the old Gaelic tory means “pursuit,” with hostile intent.  In those days, right or wrong, when a Brit thought “Catholic,” he thought “Irish.” Some of James’ supporters at Court actually were Irish.  It was an easy slam against your enemies, to label them a bunch of ragged Catholic thugs – hence the term “Tory.”  The Whigs tried others at first, especially “bogtrotters,” another slam on the Irish, but Tory was the word that stuck. 

The entire century from the ousting of James until the mid-1700s was marked by incessant rebellions, the many attempts to put James’ son, and then his grandson, the Old Pretender and the Young Pretender, onto the throne.  It ended with the great uprising of 1745, which was soon put down, in their rout at Culloden, and the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, escaped to the Continent to drink himself to an early death.  But those who wanted to put the Stuarts back on the throne were not necessarily Catholic.  Many were, particularly those of high Stuart blood, while others were passionate monarchists who believed that God put the Stuarts on the throne, and Man had no right to object.  They were called Jacobites, a word so easily confused with “Jacobin,” the violent revolutionaries in France.  It was a name they took from the Latin for James, Jacobus.  In the end it didn’t win them any friends that so often their revolts were backed by England’s perennial enemy, Catholic France. 

It’s interesting that even in Francis Grose’ slang dictionary, written in 1785, he defines Tory not only as “An advocate for absolute monarchy and church power,” but secondarily as “An Irish vagabond, robber or rapparee.”  Rapparee is another word for an Irish bandit; a rapparee was a short half-pike, a weapon used by the Irish guerrilla fighters who gave Cromwell such grief, and later by Irish highwaymen who were veterans of these wars.  Which means that decades after the last of the Jacobite wars, the negative connotation of the word was hanging around, understood by all. 

Actually, both words were once derogatory slang terms.  The origin of “whig” is debated.  Some tie it to the term “whiggamore,” which was a cattle driver, and the political roots of the word seem solid, since the Whiggamores staged a famous march on Edinburgh, in opposition to a faction of their own party of Scottish Covenanters with ties to the King.  But the Oxford English Dictionary sticks to its guns, that these are two separate words, and that the political party called Whigs got their name from slang for impoverished Scots who drank whey milk, something like buttermilk.  In either case, whig definitely carried the connotation of a country bumpkin, with a subtext of both radical and rebel. 

In the Regency the Whigs were led by the great Charles James Fox, and they were known then as the “party of the buff and the blue,” these being the colors of George Washington’s uniform, colors they wore to show their sympathy for American rebels.  Ironically, even the Prince Regent claimed, at least, to be one of them, probably to annoy his father, who was too nuts at that point to notice.  The just-as-great William Pitt was leader of the Tories, bulwark of King George.  These parties shifted over time, in a complex fashion, and lightening issues like the Corn Laws could cause tectonic shifts of allegiance.  Historically, the wealthiest of the aristocrats and the poorest of the peasantry were the passionate party of the King, and this was true for later Tories, who favored the small landholders, the yeoman class of farmers, as well as some of the gentry.  The high middling classes were often Whigs, as well as some of the great aristocratic families, and wealthy industrialists, all of them backing Parliament against royal autonomy.  It’s strange that the Whigs, who so despised the Catholics, eventually became the party of Catholic emancipation, as well as supporters of the so-called Dissenters, the many other Christians who weren’t Anglicans, all of whom lived under some very degrading laws.  Although it was a Tory, the Iron Duke, Wellington, who pushed the Act of Catholic Emancipation through Parliament.  The Whigs as a party died out in Britain in the 1860s, though there’s been a recent attempt to revive them.  The Labour Party became the fighting liberals, in opposition to conservative Tories, the name that, once again, stuck. 

So the next time you’re watching Masterpiece Theatre, trying to follow the Whig/Tory grudge match, just remember they were the Irish highwaymen versus the bumpkin Scots, labels they both wore with pride. 

Dutchy's Book Reviews

Wanted to shout out a thank you to a great site, Dutchy's Book Reviews. Witzia Raspe is a book reviewer in the Netherlands who does several sites, and this one was great fun. We have a lot in common in our taste in novels, with lots of romance and mystery in the Barbary Wars and the Ottoman Empire.  Witzia posted my first review for Heart's Blood on NetGalley, and it was such a shot in the arm for a very nervous author.  She's just incredible. 

Letter From Mollie

I always loved the 1981 book Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People, which included everyone from Rousseau to W. C. Fields, a project so big Irving Wallace brought in the whole family to help him write it. Wallace knew that lots of famous people had miserable love lives – it goes with the territory. So he added a short and charming final chapter, showcasing some incredibly happy marriages, including Jack Benny, Robert E. Lee, Louis Pasteur and Walt Disney. He called it “And They Lived Happily Ever After.” When my copy started falling apart, and I saw a new edition had come out in 2008, I ordered it, despite the claim it had been “updated.”

It wasn’t updated; it was assassinated. Actually, most of it was the same, but for a few additions like Kurt Cobain, be still my heart. But the entire last chapter had simply been axed. Why? My guess is that the original publishers, Delacorte Press, a division of the mighty Random House, had no interest in doing a new edition, and the politically-correct mavens at the ultra-hip, underground Feral House Publishing that did do it had no interest in the subject of what makes a happy marriage. In fact, I’ve no doubt the whole idea of a happy marriage offended them.

To my fury, one of the things that got cut was a postscript called Letter From Mollie, that was just jaw-dropping. Most victims of a public education think all sex was missionary position and just plain lousy until 1968, despite ample evidence to the contrary. This letter was written around 1882, from a young newlywed named Mollie, who lived "back East." Having promised to let her cousin Julia in Northern Mines, California, know what to expect on her wedding night, a common thing between close friends and sisters, she mailed a graphic and delightful description of her own. I wish I could have found a picture of the letter itself, but it's in private hands. It made me feel so great, and I wanted to share it.

Incidentally, it is reproduced here with most of its punctuation, or lack of it, in place. Spelling, too, was more a matter of opinion in those days. It’s not a spoiler. It only adds to the charm of this remarkable billet doux. However, I did throw in a couple periods, as an aid to the first-time reader.

My dear cousin Julia
I am now with much pleasure about to fulfill my promise of writeing to you after the consumation of my marriage with Albert so you may have some Idea of the thing when you and Harry are united which I hope will be soon. You will please remember this is strictly confidential if we were not so intimate I would not write so plain but you know when we were together what one did the other knew so I will keep nothing back from you. Albert and I where married day before yesterday our minister E. Hodge performed the ceremony. All of our folks were present and nothing occured to mar the pleasures of the day all went off as weddings generaly do with fun frolicking cackes & wine &c. 
But oh dear Julia you can but faintly comprehend the felicity I have experienced since that ever to be remembered night. I thought I had some Idea of the enjoyment of married life but I was a novice in the mystries I will now endevor to give you a faint description of our married life. The first night I lay with my dear Albert a thrilling sensation shot with the rapidity of lightning through my entire system. Oh-the bliss of that moment So sensitively alive it excelled any thing I had ever experienced it was superlatively nice. We lay a few moments enfolded in each others embrace our naked bodies in close contact for by some unaccountiable means my night clothes had all slipped above my waist. My blood boiled and rushed through my frame like molten lava my prespiration ceased entirely at entervals and my head throbed almost to bursting. A dizziness amounting almost to stupeifeication over came me a felcitiy not to be expressed in words. My breath seemed to leave my body I felt paralysed and lay motionless and calm as some southern sea on a still summer morn. When as to test the utmost tension of my nerves Albert took my hand and by degrees (I did not resist I suspected his intentions) in tremulous excitement conveyed it down his body until it came in contact with his-0! Heavens the thrilling sensation of that moment you know what I mean. It was swollen to an enormous size my hand immediatley and tenaciously grasped it though I declare it was as much as I could do to fairly span it. The soft velvet like feeling of its head gave additional impulse to my already excited feelings When to cap the climax of my felicity he gently raised himself on one knee and with the other between my thighs he separated my legs so as to admit his body between them and then in a moment he was gently heaving up and down with an undulating motion when I felt it enter my person. When the head entered it appeared to me that I was attacked with a spasm for I raised with sudden emotion as he bore down on me and this mutualy kept up had the effect of driving it quite into my person and then a shock suddenly passed through me as if from a galvanic battery a dizziness overcame me my eyes closed my bosom heaved my arms relaxed my perspiration ceased I was actually gone for I fainted. 
When conciousness returned Albert was hugging & kissing me clasping me in his arms in the estacy of the moment I forgot all the world except my dear Albert we lay quite exhausted for about twenty minutes when he again conveyed my hand to that Dear member that had given me so much pleasure. It was some what less in size but as soon as it felt the pressure of my hand it resumed its original proportion. Albert made another attempt to raise himself upon me but I begged him more from delicacy than disinclination to desist wich kind soul as he is he did but I could not long resist for he thrust in between my thighs and kissed me so that longer resistance was impossible and I once more yeilded to his solicitation. I did not faint this time though the pleasurable sensations were more acute than the first. I would sooner have risked my soul's salvation than to have had Albert withdraw from his embrace. I was some what sore and stiff in my parts next day but at present I feel as chirp as a squirrel. I think he has done the work for me I think I am pregnant. Now dear Julia the day is coming to a close and I must conclude this letter for I expect Albert at any moment and I would not for the world have him know what I have been writing to you so good bye for the present and in my next I will tell you more of the pleasures of married life. Give my love to Anna T Uncle and inquiring friends. 
I remain your affectionate cousin Mollie

Heart's Blood: Kindle finally working at Amazon

Amazon's running like a well-oiled machine full of sand right now
After four days of exchanging cryptic messages with the far off exotic shores of distant lands — a Malaysian chatbot — Amazon finally has the Kindle edition of Heart's Blood up and running four days AFTER my official launch day. The B&N Nook version was working on Day One, as was the AppleBooks version. But I suspect this is the byproduct of 10,000 new employees at Amazon in two months and the apocalyptic deluge of business they've had to deal with during the COVID shutdown.
We're still trying to get Amazon to connect the Kindle listing to the paperback edition, but at least it can now be found on their site.

And there was much rejoicing.

Interview: I Love Romance Blog

A great way to officially kick off the start date of Heart's Blood sales today. My first romance blog interview was published this morning by Marie Lavender on her I Love Romance blog! Many thanks to Marie for spotlighting me and the book. She even poked around and found the early NetGalley and Goodreads reviews for the book. She packed an awful lot of information into a single post, and that was a nice surprise. 

In addition to running her romance blog, Marie is a multi-genre author of twenty-one books that include historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic comedy, paranormal romance, fantasy, romantic suspense, science fiction, dramatic fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. The breadth of her books is downright astonishing! 

Thanks again, Marie! You made my day.

'Heart's Blood' by Alice Von Kannon Released Today

As Robert Burns famously penned, 'the best-laid plans o' mice and men often go astray... An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain.' 
He must have had a book scheduled to be published during a global pandemic, too.

My new historical novel Heart's Blood is set for release today, April 21st, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most every major and minor bookseller. It seemed like a terrific date last November when we picked it, but now most of us are trapped in our own homes waiting out the quarantine period.

I've written and published other books over the years —maybe you've read the 'For Dummies' books I co-authored with my husband, Christopher Hodapp. But Heart's Blood has always been my problem child, so naturally, it is coming out at the strangest possible moment in modern history.

Heart's Blood is a sweeping historical novel set in 1803 that combines romance, adventure, murder and mystery against a backdrop of Salem, Massachusetts in its greatest age of sailing ships and exploration. It's the sort of sprawling story that made historical romance the most popular genre in the world, yet no one wants to publish those anymore. Even though the world is still full of people who want to read them.

I hope that includes you.

The past is like a foreign country - they do things differently there. Historical romance novels used to be million-sellers because they captured an exciting time and place and transported their enraptured readers into it. I believe that the story I tell of Captain Issac McCallister and artist Eleanor Hampton will capture your heart and imagination just as those captivating novels of the past once did.

Despite three agents who believed in this book over the course of a decade, they were never able to shepherd it into print. More than one publishing house reluctantly rejected it after long, tortured meetings on the grounds that they just didn't know how they'd sell it. It didn't fit the chokehold pattern the romance genre has become, at least according to the Big Five publishers. It was smart and sexy and well researched – but it just didn't have any English dukes in it. And yet, every time a hard-edged professional in the publishing business or another author would read the manuscript, they'd all ask, over and over, why hasn't this been published?

Well, it has now.

Heart's Blood by Alice Von Kannon

It is 1803, and the village of Salem, once known only for the dark horrors of its witch trials, is now a cosmopolitan seaport, the richest city in America. But in many ways, Salem is still a small village. Everyone knows that Captain Issac McCallister lost his mind in the desert, five years a slave in Barbary. He is a damaged man, looking for a reason to go on living.

He finds it when he meets Eleanor Hampton, a hard-headed New Englander living on his property. Isaac is bewitched by this determined, gifted woman, while Eleanor is unexpectedly drawn to him. He's not the man she expected—there is a gallantry in Isaac that couldn't be snuffed out by the hell of Algerian slavery. But Issac's unexpected proposal of marriage sets dark forces out of the past into motion, resulting in a stunning betrayal and a brutal murder. And as her passion for her enigmatic husband consumes her, Eleanor finds there's no danger she's unwilling to face to save him from the hangman.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR HEART'S BLOOD "An engrossing tale of navigating new love and finding one’s way back home after a perilous journey." - Kirkus Reviews"Intimacy versus desire is explored in depth in HEART'S BLOOD, a sprawling historical romance by Alice Von Kannon, as Isaac and Eleanor learn to fully love each other, not only in body but also in soul." - Indie Reader

Paperback: 480 pages
Price: $8.99
Publisher: MCP Books (April 21, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1545674582
ISBN-13: 978-1545674581

The paperback is deliberately priced at a paltry $8.99 because I want people to actually buy it and read it, review it, pass it to their neighbors, and tell their friends. It's been available for pre-sale for several months and it should start shipping today. Amazon will also be offering the Kindle edition as of today.

For more about how and where to order 'Heart's Blood,' visit my website's book page HERE.

Podcast Interview: 'Meet, Act & Part'

My first podcast interview in connection with Heart's Blood just went live tonight! 

My husband Chris Hodapp and I have a previous following from our non-fiction books in the For Dummies series, and we've appeared together over the years in several TV programs, too. So it caused a surprising amount of interest in that audience when I announced I had a new historical romance novel coming out, even though it is far removed from the world of secret societies, the Masons or conspiracy theories.

The hosts of the Meet, Act & Part podcast — Bill Hosler, Greg Knott and Darin Lahners — sat down with Chris and I on Sunday night for about an hour to talk about Heart's Blood, Salem and its exciting seafaring past, the Barbary pirates, Freemasonry, world travel, Egyptian ruins, and a whole lot more! After four decades of marriage and fifteen years of both of us writing, I'm afraid when you get us talking together, one thing leads to another. 

Georgette Heyer & the Mystery of the Dictionary

I have a mystery.

It began in 2017 with my discovery at a Scottish bookseller's of a rebound volume of Pierce Egan's 1823 revision of Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, published at the tail end of the Regency period. The book itself was filled with handwritten notes and additions made by an unknown owner, and they were clearly the work of an author or a Regency period language enthusiast.

The rebinding dated to about 1925, giving a possible time period for the notes. But when I saw the picture the bookseller posted, I thought I recognized the handwriting. I'd seen it in a biography of Georgette Heyer, whose delightful, slang-filled Regency romances invented a new genre.

I purchased the book, and reading it, I found even stronger connections - the added words and phrases corresponded to singular ones I'd found in Heyer's novels. At this time, she would have been in her twenties, and had already had several books published, though she had yet to publish Regency Buck, her first Regency. The time period dovetailed beautifully. For anyone writing a book that featured Regency slang, Grose would be an essential tool, while the meticulous additions in this dictionary aligned with all I knew of Heyer's careful research.

I've spent a lot of time comparing Heyer's handwriting and the labels on her research materials to what I saw in the dictionary. Much of it wasn't a perfect match.

But I felt that a lot of it clearly was.

Heyer loved the work of Pierce Egan. His popular book, Life in London, filled with his sporty, Runyonesque slang, was one of Georgette Heyer's treasured possessions. But its bookend, Egan's version of the Grose slang dictionary, wasn't mentioned, though it was and is an indispensable reference for slang of the Georgian and Regency period. When Heyer died, no version of Grose in any edition was in the inventory of her library. The more I researched, the more often the same question kept rattling in my brain.

Had I discovered Georgette Heyer's earliest personal slang dictionary with her own private additions? The answer is a resounding... maybe.

Read on and see...

Heart's Blood on NetGalley

Heart's Blood is currently available as a free download for advance reviews from the NetGalley website. Release date is April 21st, but this free pdf or Kindle copy is available for the next couple of months for NetGalley members.

If you aren't a member of NetGalley, don't be intimidated by the website. They simply want to make sure that readers really do leave a review (and more detailed than just 'Good book/Bad book).