Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ten on Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Victorian Films and TV Shows

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but it seems to me that Victorian-set films and TV shows have flourished in recent years. There are several that I consider modern classics and have watched more times than I'm willing to admit, and yet I'm thrilled to find and hear about more popping up all the time.

Do you have a favorite Victorian era-set film or TV show?

When I want to get in a Victorian mood, these are my ten favorite go-to movies and shows:

Penny Dreadful - Ask my friends and family. I talk about this series way too much. The sets and costumes have an authentic late Victorian era feel, but the extraordinary writing by John Logan and unforgettable performances by Eva Green, Billie Piper, and the rest of the cast are what keep me watching, again and again. Bringing fictional characters like Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Gray to life in Victorian London? Oh yes, it's a concept brilliant enough to make me a perma-fan.

North and South - I'm not referring to the epic Civil War miniseries I watched as a kid, though that was awfully good too. This North and South refers to the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel that pits a mid-Victorian northern industrialist against a gently bred young lady from southern England. The multi-part British TV series features Richard Armitage looking breathtaking in period costume and contains one of THE best "look back at me" moments on film.

Ripper Street - This series is gritty, set in post-Jack the Ripper late 19th century London, and features one of my favorite actors, Matthew MacFadyen, in the leading role as Scotland Yard detective Edmund Reid. I love this series so much that it fed my imagination and played a big part in inspiring my Whitechapel Wagers series, set in 1880's London.

Oliver! - This may just be the film that started it all for me. I was forced to watch it as a kid in school, and then found that I wanted to watch again. Based on Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist, this colorful, raucous Carol Reed musical wound its way into my heart and probably still influences my notions of Victorian era London.

Little Dorrit - Another Dickens adaptation, though much more recent, by the BBC, and without much singing. This one features Matthew MacFadyen as the oblivious but charming Mr. Clennam, and a perfect performance by Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit, who's raised by her father during his imprisonment in Marshalsea debtor's prison.

Jane Eyre - This book by the incomparable Charlotte Bronte is one I'll re-read for the rest of my life, and I'm always excited when a new film or TV movie adaptation pops up. The most recent, featuring Michael Fassbender as the secret-keeping, mid-Victorian era hero, Edward Rochester, may be one of my favorites.

Wuthering Heights - Those Bronte sisters were awfully talented. Based on Emily Bronte's classic
tale, this adaptation features Tom Hardy as the tormented Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Cathy. Despite the tragic love story featured in the book and film, it's fun to watch this particular adaptation and know that Hardy and Riley became a couple after meeting during filming and are now happily married.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - I must admit this isn't my favorite Thomas Hardy novel, but this is definitely my favorite adaptation of the book about a young woman who retains strength and identity despite being misjudged and mistreated by virtually every man she meets. Gemma Arterton glows as Tess in this particular BBC film version of the book.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Bathsheba Everdene is one of my favorite Thomas Hardy protagonists, just as Gabriel Oak is one of his best male characters. This recent film adaptation featuring Carey Mulligan as the feisty female landowner and the MANY men who woo her is a compulsively re-watchable gem.

The Knick - I might be cheating a little bit with this one. It's set in early 1900's New York, and Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, so it's not quite the Victorian era. Yet the show is so fabulous I have to mention it. Focusing on the Knickerbocker Hospital, it's patients, staff, and those running the facility, the TV series features characters tackling every turn of the century social issue and perennial personal issues like addiction, racism, infidelity, religion, and, of course, early 20th century advances in medical science. Clive Owen dominates the show as the charismatic, tempestuous, and troubled physician John Thackery.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Meet Moment Monday: Lily Maxton's One Good Thing

I'm so excited to have the fabulous Lily Maxton at Romancing the Victorians today. She's a multi-talented writer who has releases in both New Adult contemporary romance and historical romance.

Today she's sharing the meet moment between her hero and heroine in One Good Thing.

Here's a bit more about the book: 

Danielle is fresh out of college and should be ready to face the world, but she’s terrified of failing, both in her life and in love. Everything feels safe, from her boring starter job to her tiny, depressing apartment-that is, until she meets Evan, the coworker who pokes all of her buttons in all of the right ways. He’s cute, sweet, self-assured and has a way of seeing the brave, sarcastic woman underneath her worries. He also has a way of getting her into the most compromising positions … in the most unlikely places.

As their work email heats up, their relationship moves from friends with benefits to more than just benefits. But, like all fledgling couples, they’ll have to overcome a few obstacles on their way to their happily ever after, including evil German Shepherds, boomerang ex-boyfriends, scheming coworkers, and company parties gone awry.

Here's the fantastic first chapter!
Chapter One 

I was a failure. Officially. The evidence couldn’t have been more obvious if it had punched me in the face—Friday night at a Halloween contest for pets. I didn’t even have a pet. I was here because my roommate had entered the contest, and I didn’t have anything better to do than tag along.

And if that red flag wasn’t enough, a dog had just stuck its slobbery nose up my backside. I shouldn’t have worn a flirty, short skirt; the hem lifted and air brushed the part of my leg where the upper thigh curved; maybe more important, I shouldn’t have worn a thong with the skirt. It wasn’t one of my brighter moments.

But what I’d been thinking was this: my boyfriend and I were supposed to go on our first real date in weeks, and even though it wasn’t the kind of thing I would normally do, I thought he’d appreciate both the skirt and the thong.

He’d canceled.

Now the only one appreciating it was the dog, whose moist breath I could feel against my bare ass.

This was why I avoided impulsive moments. Impulse and I just didn’t get along. And I didn’t even like wearing thongs. Whose idea was it to stick fabric between someone’s butt cheeks and call it underwear?

It was unnatural. And I was paying for the travesty.

I reached behind me, my hand landing not on the dog’s thick, furry skull but on some sort of plastic helmet. I gave it a fierce shove and the dog whined. Like I was being really cruel for dislodging its nose from my crotch. But my skirt didn’t fall to cover me. The hem had somehow gotten stuck in the top band of my underwear. How had the stupid mutt managed that?

I yanked the fabric back into its proper position and turned slowly, hoping that no one stood behind me, but half expecting the entire population of the park to be pointing and laughing. Was it too much to ask that the earth crack open and swallow me into its fiery depths before I died from mortification?

When I faced the park, there was no crowd gathered, but I didn’t manage to walk away unscathed. A small group of people were gathered around a nearby park bench, and a man jogged over from their direction. I glanced past him to the others, but they were deep in their own conversation and didn’t notice me.

He stopped in front of me and knelt to pick up the leash that trailed on the ground.

I stared down at his head. He looked young. He might have been attractive but it was difficult to tell at this angle. He had on dark jeans and a well-fitted black T-shirt.

Earth, now would be a good time.

“Sorry,” he said. “Vader got away from me.”

A German shepherd stood at my feet with a lopsided grin and tongue lolling out. He sported a Darth Vader helmet and cape and was wagging his tail as his wet doggy eyes stared up at me like he’d done something praiseworthy.

The creature was beyond evil. Horns and a pointy tail would have been a more accurate costume.

And then I looked back to the owner to observe him more closely. It was a mistake. Now that he was standing and I could see him straight on, I could tell that he was sort of cute. And that just made everything worse. His brown hair glinted with reddish highlights, ending past his ears with a curl. His face was longish with high cheekbones and a straight nose that had a slight bump on the bridge. Light blue eyes held mine steadily.

I looked down; that was a bigger mistake. My gaze fell on his mouth.

His lips. I swallowed. They were full, curved, sensual, and right now they were tilted in an apologetic smile.

Which meant, most likely, he’d glimpsed some or all of my butt, possibly even my lacy red thong.

Hot lips or not, my body heated with embarrassment that quickly morphed to anger. It was my coping mechanism for shame—probably not a good one. Even though it was warm for mid-October, I pulled my jacket tighter around my torso, my arms wrapping around my chest.

“Keep track of your stupid dog,” I snapped.

He patted the dog’s side like I might have hurt its feelings. “He just does that sometimes. I guess he thinks he’s being friendly.”

That was it then. He’d seen the whole thing—the whole thing. I actually felt vaguely nauseous.

Why was this happening to me? Why did it have to be a young, attractive male? The only young, attractive male who should have seen my thonged ass was my boyfriend. Not to be perverted or anything, but I’d rather have an old lady check out my butt than this guy.

“That’s great,” I said, taking refuge in sarcasm. “I hope lots of strange dogs want to be friends with you. You’ll see how fun it is to have their nose up your . . .” I didn’t finish that statement—the word got stuck in my throat and I could feel my face burn.

He didn’t say anything for a long moment, and I noticed his lips were pressed together, like he was trying not to smile. Or laugh. “It’s not a big deal.”
I hadn’t realized my mortification was so hilarious. If looks could kill, the glare I shot him then would have made his face melt off his skull, like something from an Indiana Jones movie. At my level of pissed-off-ness it was hard to be clever. “That’s great,” I said. Again.

But at least I said it in a really seething way.

He actually did laugh then, a little huff of amusement that made me want to disappear off the face of the planet. He started to say something, but I brushed past him and he fell silent.

I couldn’t get away from him fast enough.

Of course, that meant turning my backside to him again. Surreptitiously, I ran my hands down my hips to make sure the skirt covered everything it was supposed to cover. And then, with long strides, I crossed the mulch path to find my roommate.

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Author Bio
Lily Maxton grew up in the Midwest, reading, writing, and daydreaming amidst cornfields. After graduating with a degree in English, she decided to put her natural inclinations to good use and embark on a career as a writer. She loves history, tea parties, long meandering walks, and everything romance.