Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Blog Update - the next new Mosaic Moments 
will be April 13, 2014 - The Use of Capital Letters

Blair's Not-so-traditional Regencies

Grace Note:  Please take the time to scroll down to Cecilia, Book 2 of The Aphrodite Academy series, which can be found at the bottom of this list. Cecilia is currently being offered as a Limited Edition Special with Belle. This "twofer" novella package will go on Kindle's Countdown pricing on April 24, 2014.

Above is the newest incarnation of my very first book, which appeared 
as an e-book in December 1999 and has had a second e-edition, 
plus two different print editions. Though not consciously 
intended as "feminist" literature, it could easily qualify, as a 
young widow attempts to save her husband's property 
in the midst of a growing Luddite-style rebellion. But just 
as she thinks she's found a new love, her husband returns 
home from the Peninsular War  - with a fiancĂ©e at his side.  
Book 1 of The Regency Warrior series 

A seven-year saga in which a very young lady marries to save her 
father, the family home, the family business, and protect Britain's spy 
network on the Iberian Peninsula. Unfortunately, no one gives her
the key to the mystery man she marries, which leads to a war 
on the homefront almost as dramatic as the war with France.
Book 2 of The Regency Warrior series

 The mysterious Deus ex machina from Tarleton's Wife loses his 
life-long love to her father's overweening ambition to acquire a title 
for his daughter. It takes a good deal of high drama in Louisiana, 
Dartmoor, and London before his life finally comes right again.
Book 3 of The Regency Warrior series

The also-ran "other man" in Tarleton's Wife and O'Rourke's Heiress 
finally meets his match in a Canadian heiress in fear for her life. 
(I wrote Tarleton's Wife quite a few years before it was finally
published, so you could say it took nearly twenty years to 
find a girl for Jack. Believe me, this was a book I felt I had to write!)
Book 4 of The Regency Warrior series

 Brides of Falconfell is a Regency Gothic - with all the elements
 of the Victorian Gothics so many of us enjoyed reading in the past. 
A gloomy mansion, odd characters, unexplained deaths, a small 
child, a wife who fears her husband may be murderer. 
Fun to write, it seems to be attracting a surprising number of readers.

Though set in 1840 and not technically a "Regency," if you take
away all the strange and wonderful machines, Airborne reads like
a Regency, and is almost as squeaky clean as a trad.

A young woman makes a marriage of convenience, only to find 
herself caught up in an effort to restore a Hanover - 
namely, Princess Victoria - to England's throne.

Blair's Regency Darkside Books

In 2013 I inaugurated a new Regency series, The Aphrodite Academy, because I wanted to explore the problems of the young women of that era who were not as fortunate as the young ladies we read about in traditional Regency novels, and even worse off than the young women in most Regency Historicals. Basically, I wanted to explore the "dark side" of the Regency, taking a look at what might have happened to the young women whose plights are usually ignored in Romance literature.

I have enjoyed this change of pace but admit to making a big mistake when, in an effort to spare my faithful readers' blushes, I created a new pseudonym so they would know this was a real departure from my usual work. I quickly discovered, as J. K. Rowling did before me, that a second pseudonym can backfire, cutting you off from faithful readers. So Rayne Lord got the axe. Below please find a sneak peek at Belle's new cover. But you won't see it online right away as Belle is currently repackaged with Cecilia, Book 2 of The Aphrodite Academy series, and Amazon only allows ONE cover even though there are two books in the Cecilia download. Sorry about that.

 After continuing abuse at the hands of her father and his 
cronies, a young lady takes refuge at The Aphrodite Academy, 
a school where a wealthy baroness trains her students 
with all the skills necessary to become a courtesan 
of the first stare. Belle's problem - the one man she 
still admires, the one who helped her escape, 
is the high bidder for her services.

When Cecilia, Belle's headstrong classmate, discovers she has made 
a poor choice of protector, she is rescued, broken in body and spirit, 
by the notorious and powerful Nick Black, who is still working 
on rising above his reputation in London's Underworld. 

Grace note:

Hopefully, Holly and Juliana will have their own books over the course of the next eighteen months.

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by,


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Independence - Childhood's Great Loss

Shared on Facebook, source unknown - hopefully it adds a bit of humor to a serious post

Grace Note: The following post is the result of a conversation my daughter and I had as we returned from an outstanding lecture on Communication (interaction with others) by a Brown professor.

Needed:  Room to Roam

A great sickness has come upon the land. One never conceived of when the dream of Suburbia became reality after World War II. (And, yes, even though the words "suburb" and "suburbia" have been around since the fourteenth century, they took on new meaning with the great sprawl of tract housing in the 1950s.) I keep telling myself there must still be small towns somewhere where life hasn't changed much. And I suspect children growing up in the inner city have likely been hedged about by restrictions for centuries, but . . .

Most of us live somewhere in the middle, in small towns grown large or in vast suburban tracts, usually divided into enclaves surrounded by walls and, in many instances, barricaded by gates and/or guardhouses.

A few years ago when I spent a whole day at the FBI's training facility in Quantico, one of the lecturers we were privileged to hear told us that the FBI was having difficulty recruiting agents with "street smarts." I.e., men and women who were accustomed to interacting with the world around them. They attributed this failing to the Computer Age. I suggest that it's more complex than that. That the FBI was beginning to see the result of the first generation of "helicopter" parenting. Of parents who found themselves in a world more inimical than the one they grew up in. Or at least it certainly seems so. But whether this problem is due to better communication, the anonymity of urban sprawl, the increasing lack of moral teaching, or a too liberal justice system is beyond my capacity to judge. It simply is, and we must learn to cope with it without binding our children so tightly to our apron strings that they cannot function on their own.

There is also the problem of parents who have become terrifyingly ambitious, thinking to control every aspect of their children's lives, not only to protect them but to see that they do only the "right" things so they can have the "right" friends, get into the "right" schools, etc. Plus the parents who wallow in the litigious age, ready to take umbrage over anything and everything. Or the ultra liberal parents who think every child should make the sports team, be able to hit the ball, catch the ball, make a home run, or whatever.

For heaven's sake, people, be real! Stop trying to live your children's lives for them and let them learn to do it themselves.

Being careful of your child's welfare is one thing. Pushing this concept to extremes, another thing altogether. A few examples:

I write books. How did I get started? I created my first stories to entertain myself while walking home a mile-plus after school each day when I was seven. I was also allowed out of the house to play in the neighborhood all by myself. That was considered normal. Yes, this freedom can backfire. Reliable weather reports were nonexistent in those days. One day I started home from school, only to discover I was in the midst of a blizzard, with the snow already 8-10" deep. Fortunately, I had to pass the high school where my father was principal and one of the high school boys rescued me, carrying me to my father's office. But no fuss was made about it. This was life. Children learned to be independent, even if meant running into trouble occasionally. 

When my own children were growing up, we lived on Long Island Sound. Did I worry they were going to run into water and drown? I did not. They learned about water from the moment they were born, took swim classes at the Y, and there never was a bit of trouble. (And no, they did not swim unsupervised.) Did I panic about them climbing on the rocks above the water? I did not. That too was part of the adventure of growing up. We lived at the edge of a seaside community, with a woods and large salt marsh between us and the next community. My children and the other children in the neighborhood ran free in this area, crossing the salt marsh to a candy store on the far side of the marsh, placing pennies to be flattened by freight trains bringing trap rock to barges at a dock less than a mile from our home. We were near the Amtrak tracks as well. And again there was the potential for disaster, one I would have spared my daughter if I could. But the only way to do that would have been to tell her she could never leave the yard without me. One day she and a friend were out for a walk with our St. Bernard. They jumped off the Amtrak tracks when they heard a train coming. Our St. Bernard decided she had to defend the girls from this roaring enemy and stood her ground. After thirty-some years It's still a topic we try to avoid, and yet if I had it to do over, I can't imagine denying my children the freedom to roam. And to experience life, even when it turned on them.

But the present generation is being stifled. And, truth to tell, I wish I knew how to change it. How many children do you know who actually walk to and/or from from school? Yet who can blame parents for picking up their children when the news media bombards us with statistics on sexual predators in our neighborhoods? But do we have to carry the school pickup to extremes? For example, every school in Florida has covered outdoor waiting areas to protect children from our hot sun and our frequent rains. And yet, with two steps from shelter to car, a monitor is there with an umbrella for fear the child might experience a drop or two in transit. Worse yet, if there's so much as a distant thunder rumble, children are kept inside until parents come in and sign a release form before taking their child to the car. And if there is active thunder and lightning, the school goes on lockdown while the parents sit in their cars and seethe. Is this what our litigious age has wrought? Or is it simply the ultra-anxiety of outspoken "helicopter" parents, who seem to feed on imagining the worst and think they are "protecting" their children by controlling every aspect of their lives?

Grace note:  if you aren't familiar with the term, "helicopter moms" refers to mothers who hover over their children, scheduling every hour of their days, leaving little room for independence, creativity, making mistakes, etc. 

School is just the tip of the iceberg. That has always been organized - or so we hope. But what about "home" time? Many children are now in "extended day," the after-school activities that look after children in the hours between the close of school and their parents getting out of work. This is a wonderful service, but, still, it's "organized." 

If not in "extended day," children's lives are carefully controlled by arranged "playdates," organized sports activities, dance classes, karate classes organized club meetings, elaborately orchestrated birthday parties, etcetera. By now the message should be pretty clear. Today's children are suffering from:

1.  Loss of Independence
2.  Loss of Initiative
3.  Loss of Creativity
4.  Lack of "Street Smarts" - interaction with outsiders & new situations  
5.  Loss of the Opportunity to Fail
6.  Loss of the Opportunity to Think Their Way Out of Failure or a "Tight" Situation

 I suggest the possible results of the above losses could be:

1.  Lack of a common sense approach to coping with the unexpected or with adversity
2.  A tendency to "follow" instead of "lead"
        or perhaps the opposite . . .
3.  Overreacting to constant control by rebellion of the worst kind

Below is a link my daughter found on the Internet which beautifully illustrates what today's children are missing. Please take a look.

Click here for the problem in a nutshell

What is the solution? Don't I wish I knew! Acknowledging the problem is a start. 

If we can consciously try to find ways to let children have less structure, more time to be themselves, more time to be creative . . . 

If we can do this with minimal risks to safety, instead of citing the most remote dire possibility as an excuse for bringing on the Black Hawks to hover over our children 24/7 . . .

Our goal should be to teach our children how to live in this world, good or bad, not protect them so stringently from life that they have no idea how to get by on their own. We need to give our children the tools to cope with life, not hedge them around so tightly they live in a solitary bubble, turning ever more inward for fulfillment, or busting out of confinement into the underbelly of the world we thought we were "protecting" them from.

Do not rely on schools to build strong minds. Their job is academics. It's your job to teach your child how to cope with the rest of the world. And that's a big challenge. One many of us are failing at the moment. We must not live our children's lives for them! (Shades of bad sportsmanship by parents at Little League games, or the father in the Orlando area who jumped in and finished his son's fight against a 16-year-old!) We must give our children the freedom to find their own way, develop their own thoughts, stand on their own two feet, and be able to face what comes their way.

Parents should not be helicopters - or even umbrellas. Hopefully, we're the founts of wisdom, good moral examples, reliable back-up when absolutely needed, and providers of a nurturing environment. BUT - repeat - it is not our job to function as some giant plastic bubble that shuts out the world, making sure our children have absolutely no opportunity to discover that the world consists of bad as well as good.

Please, find a way to give your child Room to Roam!

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by. I would really appreciate it if you would pass this post along to every parent and grandparent you know with the request for suggestions on how to solve this modern-day problem.


Next week: Blair's Not-so-Traditional Regency novels

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Suitable for all ages

A very young lady must go to extremes to find
a safe haven. Years later, it takes a soap opera
ending to bring her saga to a happy conclusion. 
Lady Silence was my last Regency before Signet 
ended the line - and, interestingly, became my
most popular e-book. Perhaps readers are 
intrigued by the idea of a woman 
who can keep her mouth shut!

Two romances for the price of 
one. A Peninsular widow makes 
a marriage of convenience with
 a duke, while her brother 
falls in love with the duke's 
estranged daughter, who arrives
 on her father's doorstep with 
a surprising petit paquet.

An engineer and Peninsular War 
veteran just wants to build 
things, but a series of 
disasters force him to become 
a "temporary" earl. And to 
make matters worse, he has 
to deal with the uppity 
daughter of a duke. 

Signet title: 
The Major Meets His Match

A beleaguered young lady is 
forced to hire a solicitor to 
find her a husband, with 
results she never anticipated, 
including becoming a 
"campaign" wife.

Signet title: The Lady and the Cit

A very proper New England 
school mistress is shocked 
to discover her grandmother 
was a famous courtesan - 
and has left her a series 
of commissions to carry 
out before she can inherit 
a country cottage in England.

Signet title: The Indifferent Earl
(Marketing thought "courtesan" wouldn't 
play well in the Heartland!)

A young nobleman offers marriage to save a new acquaintance
from the harem of the Topkapi Palace, only to be warned off 
his bride by those who "know better." Fast forward ten years, 
and the problem has festered until Happily Ever After 
seems nothing more than an irretrievable myth.

A young couple experiences 
the hazards of a marriage 
of convenience when 
neither is experienced 
enough to make the 
necessary adjustments.

A big thank-you to Ellora's Cave
 for taking up the slack when 
Signet and Zebra canceled 
theirtraditional Regency lines.

A heart-warming Christmas 
novella about two emotionally 
damaged people brought together 
by a "mistletoe moment."

A young woman almost allows a 
series of disasters to ruin her life 
and the lives of her sisters, 
until the Christmas holidays 
help her find her way back 
to life and love. 

The daughter of a canal engineer and a young marquess 
establish a life-long friendship at an early age, only to be 
torn apart by the realities of the Regency world. 
(Includes authentic details on the building 
of the Kennet & Avon Canal.)

~ * ~

Grace note: All the above books are in the Jane Austen tradition, suitable for reading by anyone who enjoys emphasis on a wide variety of characters, plus tales of star-crossed romance. Age 14 and up.

Thanks for stopping by.


Next week: I planned on continuing my inventory of books by listing "Blair's Not-so-traditional Regencies," but I named this blog Mosaic Moments so I could be flexible, and an issue came up this week that takes precedence. So next week's blog topic will be something along the lines of : How Can Children Learn Independence in the Era of Helicopter Parenthood?

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft & Rayne Lord, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Shared on Facebook by "God-des & She" -
Eau Gallie is on Florida's Atlantic coast,
SE of Orlando


World's Easiest Dessert

I have no idea where this recipe originated, but it was posted to Facebook by an old friend of mine from my days in real estate, Judy Gwinn. It's become a favorite of the grandgirls, who beg to make it, as it's not only delicious, it's incredibly easy. As long as you follow the directions exactly. Try it, you'll love it.

1 21-oz. can of fruit pie filling (apple, cherry, etc.)
1 package of Angel Food Cake mix*

* This must be the kind of mix that only requires adding water. Duncan Hines works best for us. BUT . . .

WARNING:  DO NOT ADD WATER as the directions on the box indicate. REPEAT: ADD NO WATER TO THIS RECIPE.

Mix the two ingredients together until thoroughly moistened. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350° or until cake puffs up and is golden brown on top.

We eat it "straight," but the original directions indicate that it's great with ice cream on top. 

World's Best Artichoke Recipe

No, I didn't name it, but I have to agree. The nicest part, you can play with the ingredients a bit, and it's still good. It was designed for serving the artichokes cold but works fine warm, as long as you make the sauce at least an hour ahead so the flavors mix.

4-6 medium artichokes (about 4 lbs.)*
6 qts cold water
¼ cup olive oil
2 TBspn lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 cloves crushed garlic (1 will do, if preferred)
1½ tspn salt or Mrs. Dash

*If artichokes are large, you may have to cook them 2-3 at a time.

Trim bottom of artichokes to stand flat. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Trim spikes with scissors, if desired. (I never bother.) Choose a deep pan that will just fit around artichokes. Crowding will make them keep their shape.** But wait! Before putting them in the pan, pour in 6 quarts of water; add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil. Plunge artichokes, flower side down, into boiling water. (If they don't stay that way, don't panic - it never seems to matter.) Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes or until base is tender. Drain upside down in colander. Serve warm or cold with Rosemary Sauce (for dipping) below. 

Rosemary Sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
2 TBspn cider vinegar
1 tspn chopped onion (dry minced is fine)
1 tspn chopped parsley
1 tspn chopped pimiento (optional)
½ tspn dried crushed rosemary***

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Makes about ½ cup.

*** I use 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, snipped

EATING AN ARTICHOKE:  A New Englander for most of my life, I was taught how to eat an artichoke by California neighbors who were at Yale for the year. And, boy, did they think it was funny they had to teach my husband and me how to eat our 'chokes! I still grind my teeth when I think of it. So for those not born in California - you attack an artichoke from the outside in - dipping the fat end of the leaf into the sauce and "skinning" the soft part off with your teeth. You are then supposed to build a nice neat little stack of used leaves on your plate next to the artichoke. (I have never succeeded in having a neat stack - mine always end in a decidedly haphazard display.)  WARNING:  When you finally get to the center "choke," it has to be cut out with a knife. Do not attempt to eat it! After that, the soft base can be eaten in its entirety, but you'll need a fork to dip the pieces into the sauce.

Asparagus and Grape Salad

 A truly delightful salad for family or company. Found in one of the earliest Cooking Light cookbooks (more than a decade ago):

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2 cups seedless green grapes, cut in half
½ cup chopped red onion
2 TBspn chopped fresh tarragon (c. 1 tspn dried, if you absolutely must)*
2 TBspn balsamic vinaigrette
1 TBspn olive oil

Blanch asparagus in a large skillet of boiling water 1 minute. Drain; rinse in cold water; drain again.

Arrange asparagus on a serving plate. Mix the remaining ingredients and spoon over the asparagus.

 *I haven't tried it, but I imagine other garden herbs could be substituted - mint or even thyme, for example.

Sunday Morning Decadence

 I used to make this frequently during the years I was cooking for a growing family. Original recipe title: David Eyre's Pancakes, discovered in the New York Times magazine, many years ago (as the far-from "light" ingredients attest). But does it ever taste good!

2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
Pinch of nutmeg
8 TBspns butter (one stick)
2 TBspns confectioners' sugar
Juice of half a lemon (1TBspn)

Preheat oven to 425°. In a mixing bowl combine flour, milk, eggs and nutmeg. Beat lightly. Leave the batter a little lumpy. Melt butter in a 12" skillet with heatproof handle. When very hot, pour in batter. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sprinkle with sugar and return briefly to oven. Sprinkle with lemon juice, serve with jelly, jam, or marmalade.  Serves 4-6.

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by,


Next week: Blair's Traditional Regencies, followed by Blair's Not-so-traditional Regencies

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft & Rayne Lord, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014


 Every once in a while I have to stop and take inventory of the books I currently have available on line. Since I seem to be "branded" as a Regency author - though not without protest - I thought I'd list my "other" books first.

Blair Bancroft's "Other" Books

The Captive Heiress
a 12th c. Medieval 
suitable for all ages, 
my all-time best seller in the UK. 
(And one of my favorite covers.)

Romantic Suspense set in Central Florida - 
featuring a government agent, 
a would-be PI, and a 
back-to-nature rollercoaster.

A clever costume designer, a cop, scams, PTSD, 
and a boat chase on the Intracoastal Waterway 
play a part in this Gulf Coast mystery.

 A damaged Russian ex-pat and an FBI agent on loan to 
Homeland Security chase old Russian nukes 
and each other over settings that range from 
the U.S. to Siberia, Iran, and the Caribbean islands. 

 Exotic weddings & vacations, the Russian 
Mafia, Interpol, and a glamorous 
troubleshooter add up to a little more 
excitement than the residents of Florida's 
Gulf Coast would like.

This Romantic Suspense features a 
lawyer turned tournament fighter, as 
she attempts to recover from abuse in 
a story set against an authentic 
backdrop  of a very active 
medieval re-enactment society.

 Two people with a lot of baggage—one from New York society, 
the other a tough product of Florida's outback—
are caught in the machinations of a serial killer. 
Book 1 in the Paradise series.

The ugliness of human trafficking rears its 
ugly head in paradise, as an estranged 
husband and wife are forced to move from 
researching the problem to actually 
saving victims in their own back yard. 
Book 2 of the Paradise series. 


A short contemporary romance that is 
an old favorite, because it's my very first 
print book (He Said, She Said),and it's set 
on Cape Cod. Two mortal enemies, a 
homicide detective and a defense attorney, 
find that love truly is possible, no 
matter how steep the odds against it.

 Coming soon:

 A princess from a peace-loving planet, 
who has very special paranormal powers,
accidentally instigates a Quadrant-wide 
rebellion against a powerful empire.
(The Sorcerer's Bride & Royal Rebellion to follow.)

While recuperating in Florida, a wounded and grieving FBI agent 
stumbles into a series of murders at a museum, staged as "art." 

~ * ~

Grace Note: My books are available from most online vendors, including Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, et al.

Thanks for stopping by.


Coming next: Some favorite Recipes, followed by a list of my many different Regency stories, from trad to "tell it like it is"