The Truth About Reformed Rakes: Victorian Views on Marrying a Scoundrel

The Kiss by Carolus Duran, 1868.

If you’ve ever read a historical romance novel, you’ll likely be familiar with the oft-quoted belief that “reformed rakes make the best husbands.” This matrimonial maxim did not, however, originate in the world of Regency and Victorian fiction. In fact, when it came to marriage, many a nineteenth century lady firmly believed that a reformed rake was superior to other men. Not only was a rake more sexually experienced and (presumably) a better lover, but—after having sown his wild oats—a rake was believed to be more attentive to his business and more indulgent toward his wife.[…]Continue Reading

A Brief History of Victorian Veils...for Babies

The New Arrival by Jules Trayer, 1862.

When taking a baby out of the house, many Victorian mothers first covered the baby’s face with a veil. These veils were believed to protect infants’ faces from extremes of weather, as well as from harmful pollutants which might mar their delicate skin or injure their eyes. By the 1870s and 1880s, baby veils had become so ubiquitous that sewing books, ladies’ magazines, and even etiquette manuals often included knitting or crochet patterns for them. […]Continue Reading

The Viscount and the Vicar's Daughter: Goodreads Giveaway

The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter Goodreads Giveaway

As many of you know, my next Victorian romance, The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter, will be released on January 23, 2018. Thus far, advance reviews have been fantastic. Kirkus Reviews says “…Matthews’ tale hits all the high notes of a great romance novel…Cue the satisfied sighs of romance readers everywhere.” And Readers’ Favorite Reviews calls it “A wonderful story, steeped in historical fact…the ideal book to lose yourself in and drift off to a different place and time.”[…]Continue Reading

The Pug Who Bit Napoleon eBook Worldwide Release Day!

It’s release day for the eBook version of my non-fiction animal history book The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries! The eBook is available worldwide and can be purchased for Kindle, Nook, or other eBook reading device. The paperback version has, unfortunately, been delayed until early next month.[…]Continue Reading

A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Cleaning Dresses of Muslin, Silk, Velvet, and Lace

Musee Des Famille, 1852.
(Met Museum)

In the Victorian era, women’s clothing was just as likely to spot, stain, and soil as it is today. For fine fabrics, this posed a particular dilemma. Ladies couldn’t simply throw their printed muslin dresses into a washing machine or send their silk ball gowns to the dry cleaners. Instead, they relied on their lady’s maids to keep their clothing clean and in good order. Not only would a competent lady’s maid know how to sponge and press a gown for wear, she would also know precisely how to wash a delicate muslin or remove an oil stain from silk.[…]Continue Reading