Friday, March 11, 2011

Vist the new historical blog

Thank you for visiting the Cactus Rose Blog. Our authors of historical romance invite you to join them at

This Cactus Rose blog is no longer in use.
thank you
The Wild Rose Press

Thursday, April 29, 2010


By, Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

I have to admit it, I’m a girlie girl . . . always have been and always will be. I love porcelain dolls dressed in delicate lace, the color pink, canopy beds, nail polish, make-up and above all, perfume. Some of my recent favorites are Chanel’s, Number 5, Clinque’s, Aromatic Elixir and Estee Lauder’s, Super Estee. In high school I wore Coty’s, Emeraude, Dana’s, Ambush and Prince Matchabellie’s, Wind Song . . . not to mention Love's, Lemon and Baby Soft, Chantilly Lace and Oh de London. As a throw-back from my hippie days, I also dabbed on a hint of sandalwood oil and different fragrances of musk; as well as my old staple, Patchouli.

My perfume fetish is something I’m proud of, especially when someone takes the time to ask, “What’s that scent you’re wearing?” So, I did a little research on what the pioneer women wore to smell nice, other then a dab of vanilla extract behind the ears. Thanks to the Crunchy Chicken and several sites on Lemon Verbena, this is what I came up with.

Remember Little House on the Prairie and Laura’s fascination with her teacher, Miss Beadle, who wore lemon verbena perfume? If you were a fan of the show, Mr. Edwards gave Laura lemon verbena perfume in two episodes. So, what better thing to learn as a pioneer skill than how to make your own lemon verbena perfume?

What exactly is lemon verbena and where did it come from?

Lemon verbena (or Lemon beebrush, Aloysia triphylla) is a deciduous perennial shrub native to Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. This plant was brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 17th century where it was used widely in perfume in the 18th century.

It grows to a height of 3 to 7 metres and exudes a powerful lemony scent. It prefers full sun, a lot of water, and a light loam soil. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0°C although the wood is hardy to -10°C. Lemon verbena, if covered with some straw, cut down and kept free from very moist conditions, will also withstand up to a -15°C frost and will make new leaves in spring. The light green leaves are lancet-shaped, and its tiny flowers bloom lavender or white in August or September.

Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemony flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas and can be used to make a sorbet.

Lemon verbena has medicinal purposes as well. Traditionally, it has been used to treat asthma, fever, colds, flatulence, stomach upset and diarrhea. Today, even though the herb lemon verbena can be used in savory dishes and for medical reasons, it is still a fragrance widely used in perfumes. Lemon verbena has a woodsy scent, which helps add spiciness to many fragrances. And, because of the woodsy smell, lemon verbena in cologne makes a great scent for men as well as women.

If you’re interested in making your own batch of lemon verbena perfume, all you need to start is 100-proof vodka. The vodka, as a carrier for your perfume, is almost completely odorless and evaporates quickly when used on the skin, leaving behind just the fragrance. Combine about 24 drops of lemon verbena essential oil with two teaspoons of distilled water and two teaspoons of vodka. Pour all ingredients into a dark glass bottle and let them steep for at least 48 hours. Shake the bottle occasionally to mix the scent.

In the book, Gone with the Wind, lemon verbena was one of Scarlett O'Hara's mother's favorite scents. During that era, people made lemon verbena lavender perfume using pure essential oils. Lemon verbena lavender perfume makes a great combination since the lavender provides a relaxing scent while lemon verbena is refreshing. Bergamot acts as a refreshing top note. Start with 1/4 cup vodka and add 1/2 teaspoon lemon verbena oil, 5 drops of lavender essential oil and 5 drops of bergamot essential oil. Store and mix as above.

Now, I ask you ladies, who needs Estee Lauder?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fort Ross...and an Easter Recipe

Fort Ross, California, a former Russian trading post, is now a state historical landmark, 13 miles northwest of the mouth of the Russian River and 80 miles north of San Francisco. The fort represents the southern-most penetration of 19th century Russians who wished to establish a base on the California coast for sea otter hunting (which was relentless) and for the development of agricultural supplies for Russian settlements in Alaska.

In June 1812, a crew of 95 Russians and 40 Aleuts began to build a redwood fort and stockade on an elevated coastal plateau, and the Czar soon issued an edict closing the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco to all but Russian ships. The Russian government's attempt to control the region was responsible for that part of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 which declared the New Would was no longer open to aggression by force and European countries could not extend their holdings in it.

With the horrific extermination of the sea otters and fur seals by the Russians, Americans, and British, the Russians increased agriculture and manufacturing in their California colony, but had little success. By the end of 1839, the officials of the Russian American Company ordered the colonists to sell out and return to Alaska. And Captain John A Sutter of New Helvetia (Sacramento) paid $30,000 in produce and gold for the property. For the next several years, his men demolished some of the buildings and removed the arms, equipment and livestock the Russians had left behind.

After 1845, the fort area became the center of a large ranch, its buildings used in various ways. The G. W. Call family purchased the fort and ranch in 1874. After the 1906 Earthquake destroyed the the Chapel, the fort site was purchased by the California Historical Landmarks Committee of San Francisco and presented to the State of California. Restored in 1955-57, Fort Ross is now open to visitors.

In honor of my Russian heritage, I thought I’d share a recipe today for Paska, otherwise known as Easter Bread.

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup light cream or half and half
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup raisins and glazed cherries, mixed

Heat milk, half and half and butter till butter melts. Add to
remaining ingredients in the order your machine requires. Add the
raisins/cherries when your machine stops for adding "extras".

Use the dough setting. Punch down. Traditional way to bake is to place dough in a coffee can to make the traditional "top hat" shape to bake, but it also works as a round loaf when baked on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F., about 25 minutes. Cover top with foil for last 10 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.
Will make two small loaves, or one large one.


~Tanya Hanson

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Historical Journey

Today is the release date of my first published book, TAME THE WILD WIND. Like most authors, I used to dream about this day. I probably spent more time dreaming than writing. It seems like I've always been interested in history and romance and writing - they fit naturally together, just like the old commercial where the candy bar falls into the peanut butter jar! I'd like to discuss historical research but with a twist - immersion into the world you're creating. In some cases this may be impossible, but I think you'll get the idea....

I rode in an 1880s stagecoach when I was 19. It was held up by masked bandits. The seats were narrow boards and we were all squished inside. I felt every jolt and start and stop of the horses. Not a comfy ride, and that was only an attraction at Angel's Camp, a historic gold-mining town in northern California. At 19, I'd already completed 3 or 4 historical romances and kept a ready eye out for research moments like this. As I rode in the stagecoach, I examined the interior: the thinly padded leather seat behind my back; the small lanterns inside. The narrow bench in the middle where the unfortunate occupant would have nothing to support him. I couldn't imagine traveling more than a few miles in such a contraption, but this was a viable means of transportation in the not so distant past. Ditto riding in a steam train at Allaire State Park in New Jersey.

Renaissance festivals and military reenactments are also a good source for the feel of a certain era. I recently attended the Crystal River Civil War Reenactment in Florida. Since Jed Hazard, the hero in TTWW is a former Union soldier, watching a battle unfold was interesting and exciting. The officers waited on the sidelines from their safe perches on horseback, giving orders and watching the fray. Women in bonnets and soiled aprons ran behind lines of soldiers, bringing bandages and water. Young drummer boys with sooty faces stayed out of the worst of it, while rebel yells and gunshot abounded. The best was to come - walking among the camps and seeing how soldiers lived was an eye-0pener. They cleaned their weapons, cooked food, drank from canteens, fed horses and dogs, polished boots, patched torn uniforms, smoked corncob pipes, and talked around the fire on wooden chairs or felled logs. There was even a demonstration of a medical tent replete with a cigar-smoking surgeon calling for ether to knock out a potential amputee, nurses crying over the dead, and a chaplain loudly urging the heavens to accept this "poor lost lamb who will no longer feel pain."

These reenactments are also well supplied with vendors, but of the authentic variety. I bought my son a handmade wooden sword and shield (ok, not Civil War, but at least not made in a store!) and they had rock candy, kettle corn, handmade dresses and bonnets, and then the antique dealers were there with hair receivers, mourning brooches, kid leather ladies' gloves, and other samples of daily life in the era.

I grew up in England, and still recall Sudeley Castle's jousting tournaments and medieval fairs. It was like Medieval Times but without the commercialism. Falconry was displayed the way it had been done for hundreds of years, powerful horses were bedecked in armor and colors of their knights, and the knights themselves - whoo boy! Ladies in flowing gowns and headpieces, jugglers, fire eaters - the list goes on. We visited many stately homes and castles, and it was easy to imagine living in another time! Walking on old parquet or ancient stone floors, peering into gigantic gilt-framed mirrors, examining period costumes or bed hangings and tapestries - this was food for my eager little researcher's mind. When Henry VIII's Hampton Court went through a disastrous fire in the 1980s, my mom toured it months later. They were ushered through one of the rooms that had not been restored, and a lingering red tapestry fringe still hung on the wall. Apparently, during the fire, the firemen had sliced the tapestries from the walls where they were bolted on. The fringes and borders remained. Well, being the "research assistant" she is, Mom grabbed a string and kept it. I later embroidered this 10 inch long, 500-year old faded red thread into a little keepsake for her. That little thread could tell stories, I'm sure!

I hope you enjoy reading historical romance for many more years to come. Immerse yourself in a story the way the writer has. Live the history. Feel the romance and joy. Lose your heart in a book!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Men of the West

While thinking of the men who ‘tamed’ the west, lawmen, outlaws, cattlemen and cowboys, gamblers, miners, farmers, preachers and doctors come to mind, as well as a few others, but for my latest release, Boot Hill Bride, the hero is one rarely recognized—a chef. Hog (Howard) Quinter, loves to cook and sets a goal to create the most elegant restaurant/hotel Dodge City ever hosts. When he’s caught in bed with the daughter of the man running for Governor of Kansas, his dream becomes a nightmare.

Everyone who’s ever taken a road trip knows the excitement of getting out of the car and having a good meal. That excitement was there in the 1800’s as well. Restaurants, cafés, eateries, roadhouses, hotels, boarding houses, or whatever we want to call them, were as important to towns as saloons and churches.

Just today we returned from another trip to Kansas to see family, and once again I didn’t find the time to get over to the eastern part of the state where there is a small town, Brookville (population 239), that I want to visit. For years the town boasted one of America’s oldest and longest running restaurants. (The family who has owned the restaurant for the last 100 years opened a replica of the original restaurant up near the interstate several years ago.)

The literature I’ve read says the railroad’s arrival in 1870 made Brookville a central hub for the Texas cattle drives coming up the Chisholm Trail and the town soared with growth, hosting every type of business needed to keep the cowboys and railroad men happy—including an opera house. Less than twenty years later, the trains moved their hubs to Junction City, KS, and the town shriveled, yet continued to survive until an army base was built nearby and brought thousands of soldiers. Then, after the war, when I-70 was built the less traveled highway traveling through Brookville soon became cracked and overgrown leaving the town all but forgotten once again.

Established as the Cowtown Café in 1870 the cafe served meals to buffalo hunters, cowboys, railroad men, soldiers, travelers, and a host of others including local residents. In 1894 the name was changed to the Brookville Hotel. Their chicken dinners are what made them legendary.

It was a few years ago that I picked up the literature about the Brookville Hotel while we were traveling along the interstate and after reading about the restaurant I knew I had to create a hero who loved to cook.

Boot Hill Bride, The Quinter Brides Book 3 was released in print this week and will be released in e-book on April 16th. Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt:

Howard (Hog) Quinter is hell bent on getting The Majestic, the finest hotel and restaurant west of the Mississippi, open by May 1st. The last thing he needs is interference from his family, but that’s exactly what he gets when Ma Quinter strikes one brisk morning. Sound asleep, Howard rolls over to discover a lovely young woman lying beside him, however, standing at the foot of the bed are his mother, the girl's father, and a blubbering preacher reading wedding nuptials.

Randilynn Fulton runs from a forced marriage to her aunt in Dodge City, only to discover Aunt Corrine is one of Danny J’s brothel girls. If she stays, Randi may become one as well, which would damage her father's chance at running for the Governor’s seat. But it gets worse when she finds herself in the middle of what she ran from—a shotgun wedding, and she’s the bride.


Even sitting here, stinging from the cold of the night, his fingers tingled, wanting to touch her silky skin, caress the curve of her back and examine those perfect dimples—

“Holy shit!” Snake exclaimed under his breath.

Howard snapped his head up. Both of his brothers stared over his shoulders, their mouths agape, and their eyes as round as biscuits.

“What?” he asked, twisting his neck to follow the trail of their gazes. His jaw went lax, the bottom of his chin all but slapped against his chest. The sight he stared at knocked the air out of him harder than being thrown off a wild bucking bronc.

Inside the canvas, the flickering light of the lantern made his tent glow brighter than the moon. The white, heavy tarp had become pale yellow, and a dark silhouette moved about inside the gently billowing sides. It was a moment before his eyes locked on the shadow and registered what he saw, sending the impulse to his brain.

Randi was undressing, and the light projected each movement against the canvas screen more clearly than the finest painter could create. Her graceful, womanly profile moved with perfection as she drew her gown over her head. The contours of her breasts, flat stomach, the inward arch of her lower back, and her long, slender legs became clearly visible to onlookers.

“Shit!” Howard leaped to his feet. Almost as an afterthought, he grabbed the hat off his head and swiped it at both of his brothers, knocking theirs askew. “Turn around!” he demanded before storming off toward his tent.

Jogging across the grass, he shouted, “Randi! Randi! Dowse the light!”

The silhouette inside stalled.

“Dowse the light!” he repeated.

Thursday, March 25, 2010



By, Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

The other day my friend’s twelve year old son forgot his homework, and so after school his teacher had him sit in detention. Now, the detention room is one of the class rooms, painted in a clean, neutral color, airy and bright with lots of windows. You are forbidden to talk to the student next to you, but you are allowed to do your homework or read a book for the forty-five minutes you’re serving your sentence.
When my friend’s son came home with the note his teacher sent, my friend explained the importance of him being responsible and then told him if it happened again he wouldn’t be able to play games on his computer for a week.
In my day we were either grounded or had phone and television privileges removed.
Let’s look at the pioneer day discipline:


Misbehaved students were flogged in Pioneer times. It was a totally embarrassing episode whether done in school or at home.
In school, if a child misbehaved the teacher would drag the student struggling up to the front of the class, in full view of other snickering students. The chastised child would then be completely horsed over the teacher’s knee – with an elbow hard upon his neck to keep him securely on. Then, with a thick strap the teacher proceeded to punish the child’s backside with several hard whips. In some schools a whipping post was installed, whereby a child was tied to and whipped in front of his classmates.
“When I’m through, you’ll need a warming pan to sit in tonight,” the teacher would threaten. But it did not end with the comforts of a warming pan once the child got home. Usually more flogging followed and more humiliation.
At home, a parent would make the child go out and find a long, willowy switch from a tree, cut it down and wait in the woodshed. While there, the misbehaved child would have time to ponder his actions. Most times, I’m sure, it was more a worry as to what was to come next that filled his thoughts. After enough time had passed and the child was ripe with fear and regret, the parent would enter the wood shed, sit upon a stool, and take the switch into his own hand. The child would then be ordered over the parent’s knee, breeches or bloomers lowered to the ankles, and a very tender, bared behind reddened by repeated blows using the switch.

Elizabeth Montgomery, in her Reminiscence of 1851, recounts practices in the girls’ school of a Mrs. Elizabeth Way. For permitting her head to fall forward, a girl was forced to wear a necklace of sharp Jamestown weed-burrs, strung on tape. If tasks were slighted, a girl was forced to wear leather spectacles.

The old test of good discipline was, if you can hear a pin drop, then the order in the school is perfect. The implication was that the "wheels in the head" make no noise when in action. The teacher was advised never to smile until Christmas. The youngsters were generally marched into the classroom, marched to classes, and then marched out of the building. The old time teacher, by virtue of his position, was a dictator.

The teacher enforced order and quiet among students except for recitation periods. Pupils spoke only when called upon by the teacher or requested periods. Permission to speak was granted by raising their right arm.They were usually required to stand when speaking to the teacher or to the class. Titles of respect (Miss, Mister, Ma'am, and Sir) were always used in addressing the teacher. Students were required to speak correctly.

Punishment took numerous forms. Corporal punishment was not unheard of nor was other extreme penalties such as detention, suspension and even expulsion. Lesser punishments, more common at that time than now, included such things as a rap on the hands or knuckles with a steel edged ruler; standing in a corner with face to the wall; wearing a dunce cap, facing the room, and sitting upon a high stool beside the teacher's desk; standing for long periods with arms held straight out in front; standing with an arm outstretched, palm up, while holding a heavy book on that hand for a long period; or being banished to the girls' cloakroom (if the culprit were a boy).

“Modern Standards" Appearing in the Later 1800s:

In the period between the Civil War and the middle of the twentieth century, there was increased attention to the individual development of school children. The earlier conceptions of strict discipline and even brutal punishment gave way to more sympathetic views of the child as an individual. Authoritarian discipline and corporal punishment were softened, and greater attention was given to the development of habits of self-discipline.

According to V. H. Culp, author of How to Manage a Rural School, "The discipline of the rural school should be more like that of a well ordered family with the teacher as its head. The children should be able to get a drink or a book or even leave the room, without permission except in occasional cases where such privileges are abused. If the older children are encouraged to help the younger ones upon many occasions a feeling of cooperation will always be in evidence."

When a child could not conduct himself in routine affairs without disturbing the school, or wasted his own time, his liberties must be restricted until the rules were learned. Punishment should always be in proportion to the transgression. The certainty of punishment rather than the severity would deter evil doers. Corporal punishment and suspension should be used only as a last resort. It was taken for granted that the Golden Rule, courtesy, fairness, and good manners were the standard of conduct.

I don’t know what sort of Golden Rule is practiced today. I’ve seen children in markets, malls, and theaters acting out to horrible proportions. They overule the parent's authority, having no fear of the consequences. And the parents are between a rock and a hard place because administering a slap or sending a child to bed without supper today is considered child abuse.

I’m glad my children are adults and I don’t have to deal with such things. And when they call me concerned over problems they’re having with their own offspring, I remember something my grandmother once told to my mother. “Grandchildren are a parent’s revenge.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Oregon Female Physician

This being Women in History Month I'd like to introduce you to one of the women in Oregon history who has been an influence on my historical stories.

Bethenia Owens-Adair- 1840-1926

In 1859 Bethienia divorced her husband LeGrande Hill—She was nineteen and had a three-year-old child. She married Hill at the age of fourteen. The stigma of the divorce followed her through her whole life.

She was a strong woman who refused to be a victim. She left the abusive marriage and raised her son as well as earned two medical degrees. One of the first women to practice medicine in Oregon she was also friends with Abigail Scott Duniway and became a subscription agent and regular contributor to Duniway's woman's right newspaper in Portland, OR.

This woman's story is what inspired my heroine in my June release, Doctor in Petticoats. She wasn't married before or divorced but she is strong of character and fights against society to be the best doctor she can be.

Here is the blurb
Clay Halsey not only loses his sight in an accident but his self-confidence as well. His brothers enroll him in a blind school. Feeling worthless and unwanted, it takes the courage of a young man and the trust of a woman to help him see he has future.

Doctor Rachel Tarkiel has settled for a life healing others and ignored her emotional wounds. When Clay shows her friendship and affection, she wonders if there is a chance she can have a life like others, or are her scars too deep to heal?

“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.
She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.
His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.
Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.

Paty Jager