Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
It has been noted that there is a Cecelia Heatherington-Vaughn in The Other Daughter. Not illogically, the question has been asked: is she one of those Vaughns?
Yes. Yes, she is.
As always, the Vaughns just won’t keep out of the way. They pop up everywhere. In my Kenya book; in my 1927 book; in your Christmas stocking. (Okay, maybe not there. Yet.)
As is usually the case with the Vaughns and their descendants, I flung a character into the mix in the 1927 book, meaning her to be a minor side character, with a cameo role for a chapter or so. Insert hollow laughter here. It wasn’t quite a Lord Vaughn level plot-hijacking (no-one hijacks a plot quite like Lord Vaughn), but my frivolous side character, Cece Heatherington-Vaughn, decided, without consulting me, that it was really only right that she play an integral role in the story, and, while she was at it, become a much more rounded character. And could I please pass that gin fizz?
Just to give you a quick idea of how Cece is related, here’s a bit of Vaughn family history….
Mary and Vaughn’s granddaughter (born early in the reign of Queen Victoria, in 1841), the middle daughter of their son, the Victorian Lord Vaughn, marries a wealthy industrialist, Mr. Heatherington. A granddaughter of Mary couldn’t help but be (a) a bit snobby, but with (b) rather a liking for cold, hard cash, so she squares the circle by adding the Vaughn on to Heatherington, building an opulent mansion in Park Lane, and lording it over all of her acquaintances. Her son (Vaughn and Mary’s great-grandson) marries Lady Frances Standish, daughter of the Earl of Ardmore. Together, they beget Cece.
Long story short, Cece Heatherington-Vaughn is Mary and Vaughn’s great-great granddaughter, but no longer in the direct line.
For those of you who remember Val Vaughn, from The Ashford Affair, he’s Cece’s second cousin. (His grandfather and Cece’s grandmother are brother and sister.) Unlike Cece, Val is in the direct line, although, being a younger son, he gets all the fun and none of the responsibility, leaving him free to gad off to Kenya and fly aeroplanes.
None of this comes up in the book (for the sake of the plot, it’s Cece’s maternal connections that are more important here, not the Vaughn side), but I thought you might like to know the Vaughns are still going strong– especially since it’s The Seduction of the Crimson Rose month on The Bubblebath Reader!
Thursday, November 20th, 2014
The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts, all on a summer’s day. The knave of hearts, he stole those tarts and took them clean away….
If ever there was a candidate for the Queen of Hearts, it’s Mary Alsworthy. And while we’re speaking of knaves…. Hello, Lord Vaughn!
So it seems particularly appropriate that the ever-resourceful and talented Christine chose strawberry tarts (okay, cakes, really– but for some reason, I keep thinking of them as tarts) for this month’s Pink Carnation cookery, in honor of Lord and Lady Vaughn.
The first three Pink Carnation books were all set during the summer. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose was my first autumn book: waning days, darkening skies, and a slightly older, more cynical hero and heroine.
So, for November, Christine brings you… Lord and Lady Vaughn’s Strawberry Tarts (or Cakes)!
And now over to Christine:
I was scouring the Internet looking for something that Lord and Lady Vaughn would approve of. I found a picture of adorable mini sponge cake towers with strawberry frosting in between the layers, adorned with a tiny strawberries on top. What’s sexier than strawberries and frosting? But, darn you, Pinterest! No links to the actual recipes! So I had to make do and try to recreate them on my own.
I started with Martha Stewart’s pound cake recipe and an AllRecipes strawberry frosting recipe, paired with a heart-shaped cookie cutter I got as a wedding favor years ago.
2 sticks of butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease pan.
2. Beat sugar and butter on high speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
4. Add vanilla and salt.
5. On low speed, gradually add flour, being careful not to overmix.
6. Martha used an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan and baked for an hour. I used a 9 x 13 pan because I wanted a thin cake that I could use the cookie cutters on. My baking time was 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool completely then cut as desired.
A lot of frosting is based on personal preference – how strong you want the strawberry flavor, how thick you want the frosting to be, how much you want to layer. I personally don’t like very sweet frosting. There was an unfortunate incident in which I tried to make Elmo cookies for my son’s birthday. The entire face had to be frosted with a thick royal icing. It was so overly sweet that I couldn’t eat any, which is sad because I spent a good 3-4 hours making them.
These are the steps as listed in the recipe, but if you like a stronger flavor, add more strawberries. If you want a thicker frosting, add more sugar. The original recipe is for 18 servings. I cut the recipe in half and still had more than I needed. Husband and son were glad to have plenty of frosting to dump on their cakes for the next few days.
1 cup fresh strawberries (and a few saved for decorating the cakes)
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1. Puree strawberries in a blender.
2. Pour puree into a pot and let boil until puree is reduced by half. This will take 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly.
3. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
4. Beat 1 cup of sugar into the butter.
5. Add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of strawberry puree.
6. Repeat with another 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of puree.
7. Beat last 1/2 cup of sugar into mixture.
Putting it all together:
Layer the cakes with frosting in between, decorating the top as you want.
I loved how the frosting came out a bit glossy. I ended up using about a full cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup butter and 1 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar.
What do you think? What would Vaughns approve?
If you need a break from the pumpkin pie next week, just give these a whirl! Thanks so much, Christine! These look scrumptious.
If the Vaughns are all about strawberries and the Fitzhughs have their thing about raspberries, which fruits or berries belong to the other Pink characters?
Miles would now like to know whether “ginger” counts as a fruit.
Saturday, July 20th, 2013
We’re up to Pink IV, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose!
Who: Mary Alsworthy and Lord Vaughn
When: Autumn, 1803
What: Lord Vaughn recruits socialite Mary Alsworthy for an unlikely task: infiltrating the League of the Black Tulip.
Historical Cameos: None. Lord Vaughn isn’t letting anyone steal his thunder.
Fun facts about Crimson Rose:
— This is the book that wasn’t supposed to be. Originally, Pink IV was meant to be about Charlotte Lansdowne. I was about three-quarters of the way through writing The Deception of the Emerald Ring and had already begun researching Charlotte’s book when Mary Alsworthy began clamoring for a book of her own. That seemed like a terrible idea, so I tried to ignore her. But Mary Alsworthy is not to be ignored… so I called up my editor and said, “I know this sounds crazy, but what do you think about this for the next book?”
— I hadn’t intended Lord Vaughn for Mary Alsworthy. I’d played around with– and discarded– the idea of Lord Vaughn and Charlotte (he’d eat her alive), Lord Vaughn and Penelope (she’d bore him), and even Lord Vaughn and Jane (complete mutual incomprehension) before the light bulb clicked on about Mary and Vaughn.
— Crimson Rose was written while I was working full time as a litigator at a large New York law firm. I was a little low on sleep that year– but the crankiness seemed to work for Vaughn and Mary.
My favorite scene? This one is hard for me. It’s a toss up between the scene where Vaughn first approaches Mary with his strange proposition (no, not THAT kind of proposition) and, much later, Mary’s internal monologue in Vaughn’s wife’s room.
What’s your favorite scene from The Seduction of the Crimson Rose?
Saturday, February 19th, 2011
In all the Orchid Tour madness, I completely forgot about the launch of the UK edition of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. Can’t you just hear Mary fuming? Apologies, Crimson Rose. At least you have a particularly glamorous cover.
In honor of the Crimson Rose UK launch, I answered a few questions on Valentine’s Day about crimson roses, seduction, and a variety of other topics. You can find the interview here, on the Allison & Busby site.
Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
As we count down to January 2011, here’s a snippet from January 2008 and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.
I had thought this one would be harder to choose. Mary and Vaughn’s courtship occurs primarily through word-play as each tries to outsmart the other, leading to many moments of barbed quippage. As I flipped through, however, it became clear that one scene was the logical choice to share in my Pink New Year’s retrospective: the one where these two prickly characters batter each other into letting down their guards.
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
To add to the growing gallery of foreign editions, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose comes out in the UK on February 7th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Mary has a whole new look!
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
Write Chic just posted an excellent article discussing the career of the anti-heroine in fiction. She uses Mary, from The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, and our very own Penelope of Blood Lily as two of her prime examples. The first ones who come to mind for me are Scarlett, from Gone With the Wind, and Amber, from Forever Amber.
Who are your favorite anti-heroines?
Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
The line in question–
“No, darling, I don’t mind in the least that you’ve quite ruined my prospects. I always wanted to be made a laughingstock in front of the ton.”
— comes from page 56, line 5 of the paperback edition of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, as part of Mary Alsworthy’s internal monologue. Kudos to everyone who got it! It’s a tricky one. For a moment, even I thought it might have been Emerald Ring.
The winner of the very impromptu, spur of the moment mini-contest is… Veronika! Congrats, Veronika. If you email me, I’ll send you your copy of Blood Lily.
More impromptu contests coming soon!
Thursday, January 7th, 2010
It has been borne in on me recently that my closet is very full. Full of books. (Nothing bears this in on one like an avalanche of hardcovers hurtling towards your head as you try to conduct the simple action of extracting a coat from a hanger.)
In particular, I have ten extra copies of the hardcover of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose that could use a good home. Rather than giving them away as contest prizes, it seemed like the most effective way of sharing the love was to make sure they wound up in libraries, where lots of people could enjoy them. (Unlike the top of my head, which doesn’t particularly enjoy them applied topically.)
If you’re a librarian and your library could use an extra copy of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, please do email and let me know! If you aren’t a librarian, but think your local library could use a copy of Crimson, please do let your library know about the offer. I also discovered a couple of extra copies of the audio versions of Crimson Rose and Emerald Ring, so if your library needs audios, give me a shout.
I’ll be donating both the books and the audios on a first come, first serve, one copy per library basis.