I’ve been doing research on birthstone history and the 7th Cavalry for a new book, and I’m reminded again of how much I love the Internet.
When I started writing, the Internet was just barely starting, so I had to rely on print sources. The research for my first historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage, took a long time. Some questions I had weren’t answered until my husband and I made a trip to Quebec City in Canada! (Plus it’s always fun to see the places you’re writing about. Any excuse for a chance to travel.)
In any case, the Internet is now chock full of wonderful information for writers to access in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks. Ah, ye old inter-library loan.
Anyway, I had decided I needed a valuable piece of jewelry for the new plot and thought it would be cool to connect it to a character’s birthstone. But how old was the concept of birthstones?
Quite old, as it turns out. Apparently the concept of assigning gems to categories goes back to the Old Testament when Aaron’s breastplate had 12 gems on it, each representing one of the tribes of Israel. In the Middle Ages, Jewish jewelers transferred the gems to the signs of the Zodiac and introduced them to Europe. It wasn’t long before the gems became associated with months of the year rather than the pagan astrological signs. You can read more about birthstone history here.
But are the birthstones still the same today? Not exactly. Here’s a graphic of the modern birthstone system, though there are now subsidiary gems assigned to the months as well. The “modern” list dates to 1912.
Again, thanks to our wonderful World Wide Web, I was able to easily locate a Gregorian Birthstone poem that was published by Tiffany and Co. in 1870, perfect for my 1893-set Western historical romance. Most are the same, but not all. March, June, August and December vary.
But which gemstone to choose? Which was the most valuable at the time?
According to an article written in 1949 that some lovely person digitized and uploaded the Internet, I learned that “from 1872 to the present day (1949) the emerald has been the most expensive stone.”
Here’s the verse for the month of May:
Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.
Great, but what kind of jewelry?
I talked to my neighbor, whose father was a jeweler, and she suggested a brooch. They’re not very popular now, but were in the 19th century. I found this photo of a vintage brooch at Deposit Photos and I think it will be perfect for my book, since it has not one but two large emeralds.
Would someone kill for that? Maybe, if he were desperate enough.
What are you researching?
Linda McLaughlin / Lyndi Lamont
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OCC/RWA Online Class Coordinator
I’m thrilled to be the Featured Author this month, and thought I’d use my regular monthly post to share some of my Historical Romance backlist. Warning: Blatant self-promotion.
My first published historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage, starts in Western Pennsylvania where I grew up, and ends in old Quebec, a favorite destination I traveled to with my DH. It’s also my first historical romance novel, the one that wouldn’t leave me until I’d finally sold it. It took me three years to research and write the book, and nine years to sell it. But Jacques and Mara just would not let me rest until their book saw the light of day! Fortunately, I sold it to Amber Quill Press in 2002. It garnered 4 1/2 Stars plus a Top Pick in Romantic Times and was nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance, 2003, as well as taking second place in the Historical Category of the 2002 Lories Contest. I reissued it in 2013.
In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupré’s life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn’t count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.
French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau’s desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left. But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.
Rogue’s Hostage is availabe from
Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him.
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a ‘rescuer’ of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with his secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party.
I love the Regency subgenre, but for the longest time thought I couldn’t summon the voice. When I discovered that I could do so, I happily wrote a reverse Cinderella story set in one of my favorite cities in the whole world: London. In 2003, and again in 2015, I had the opportunity to visit London and see some of the places where Lady Elinor and her hero Stephen Chaplin lived and loved. I’m hoping to add some sequels to Elinor and Stephen’s story, though when I’ll find the time, I do not know!
Lady Elinor’s Escape is available from
And writing as Lyndi Lamont:
How To Woo… A Reluctant Bride, Steamy Victorian Romance.
A marriage contract, nothing more…until darkly handsome Evan Channing and demure Lydia Blatchford meet. Yet the rules are simple for an arrangement such as theirs. There should be no misunderstanding, no illusions of anything more. But the rules are about to change…
Lydia wants the kind of love and romance she reads about in books. Fortunately, she hasn’t specified which book, and Evan has a copy of Richard Burton’s new translation of the Kama Sutra, with its ancient wisdom on love and courtship. He sets out to win his high-born bride, blending seductive promises with exotic lessons in love-making.
Lydia is prepared to tolerate this man she’s been sold to, but his scorching kisses send her pulses racing. Can an arranged marriage lead to love?
Disclaimer: This is a short 30 page romantic short story with bonus material** It is not a full-length novel. Contains scenes of Victorians breaking society’s rules, marital sex and ancient wisdom from the Kama Sutra.
How To Woo… A Reluctant Bride, is part of the USA Today Bestselling Romance Super Bundle II: Second Chances bundle, which allows me to make the claim of being a USAT bestselling author. (I said there would be blatant self-promotion.) Available from
You can find me online at http://lindalyndi.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindaMcLaughlinAuthorInsert Shortcode
Twitter: @LyndiLamont https://twitter.com/LyndiLamont
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