What is a post chaise?

Detail from Pollard, The Mail Changing Horses at “The Falcon” at Walthamstowe, image from The Autobiography of a Stage Coachman, courtesy Archive.org

In A Duke in Shining Armor, my characters travel, at one point, in a post chaise.

At the Jane Austen Society of North America, you can read Ed Ratcliffe’s carefully researched and detailed paper on transport in the early 1800s. If you scroll down about a third of the way you’ll come to the post chaise part. On her website, Candice Hern covers the topic rather more briefly.

And/or you can read my, also brief, version:

Thomas Rowlandson, An English Postilion, ca 1785, courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

A post chaise was usually a hired vehicle, rather like a long-distance taxi-cab. They were not driven by a coachmen but by postilions or postboys (they were “boys” no matter how old they were), who rode the “near” or left side horse. The vehicles tended to be small, holding two passengers in tight quarters on a single seat. This intimacy is one reason I like to have my hero and heroine travel by post chaise.

Thomas Rowlandson, The Runaway Coach, ca 1791, courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Another reason is speed. If you traveled in your own vehicle, with your own horses, you’d need to stop to water/feed and rest the horses at frequent intervals, say every six to twenty miles, depending on how slowly you travel, and road condition, e.g., level, uphill, well or poorly maintained. The rest period could take hours.

Instead, with a post chaise, at similar intervals, determined by road conditions, you stopped at a posting inn and changed for fresh horses. This change took very little time, and off you’d go again. The posting inns maintained a good supply of horses. Also, for a long journey, there would be postilions or postboys available to take over for your tired driver. About every other stop, you’d change vehicles, too, so that the owners of the operation could keep track of their property.

The photograph is from my 2009 visit to Colonial Williamsburg. Coachman Susan Billeter Cochrane stands with the horse saddled for her to ride postilion. Note that she wears a leather guard over her left boot to protect it from close contact with the other horse.



The 2017 Book Tour in Review

Signing books at the Savoy Bookshop & Cafe in Westerly, RI

It’s a new year already, and I’m working on a new book, the second in the Difficult Dukes series.

In recent weeks/months I was also busy making virtual and real appearances in connection with the first Difficult Dukes book, A Duke in Shining Armor.

The virtual appearances include blog posts and interviews, some of which cover not just the book but topics that may be of interest to romance readers.

A conversation with author Caroline Linden at the Bacon Free Library, Natick MA

Marilyn Dahl interviewed me for Shelf Awareness, and made me sound unusually coherent. Thank you, Marilyn!

Denny S. Bryce moderated a panel dealing with Romance and Respect at the Strand Bookstore in New York. You can watch the whole thing here on YouTube.

At RT Reviews, I offered the alarming truth about dukes in the early 19th century. For RT’s VIP Salon subscribers, there’s also an interview.

My work gets a mention in this piece on bodice rippers—the term that won’t go away.

Another take on the topic of romance novels is at Publishers Weekly:  “It’s Still Complicated: Romance Publishing.”

Still from the Strand video of our Romance & Respect panel. L-R: Denny S. Bryce (moderator), Tessa Bailey, Loretta Chase, Tracey Livesay, Megan Frampton, Joanna Shupe

At USA Today’s Happy Ever After site, Cathy Maxwell and I talked about some fundamentals of romance and the heroine’s journey.

There's only one Difficult Dukes book so far

I've heard from a couple of readers who are wondering whether they missed a book in the new series. It took a little while to figure out what led to this conclusion. Eventually I realized: References are made in A Duke in Shining Armor to the Duke of Blackwood's having married Ripley's sister a year earlier. Since I often refer to past events that are in my head, and will eventually (I hope) be worked out in ensuing books in the series, as part of the series story arc, it did not occur to me that this particular one might lead to a Missing Book question.

To answer the question: No, there was no previous book. A Duke in Shining Armor is Book One of the series. Ashmont's story—as yet untitled—comes next. Blackwood's, which is quite complicated, due to his already being married (what was I thinking?), will be the third book.

If you ever find yourself wondering if you missed one of my books, please wander over to the Books page, where series descriptions appear, along with individual book information, and the most up-to-date listing of what's been published. There's even a printable book list.

And of course, subscribing to this blog will, with the occasional crazed exception, keep you up to date with whatever strikes me as vaguely related to my books and the process of getting them out into the world. OK. Not sure about how the loos fit into this. But it was London! Where so many of my stories are set! So that settles that.

Image: Thomas Rowlandson, A Book Auction, made between 1800-1815, courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. When mention is made, in A Duke in Shining Armor, of Olympia's memorizing auction catalogs, this is the type of event she would have been fantasizing about attending. All of the antiquarian books she refers to in the story were either in auction catalogs or listings of a particular private library that I found online...because I am about as nerdy as she is.