Romance Novel Giveaways - Freebies and Giveaways of All Things Romance Romance Novel Giveaways: The Dressmaker's Duke by Jess Russell ♥ Fun Facts, Book Tour & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Historical Romance)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Dressmaker's Duke by Jess Russell ♥ Fun Facts, Book Tour & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Historical Romance)

Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antithesis of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed "the Monk" by Society. But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten. He pays her just to remove her from his house, and mind. But logic be damned; he must have this fiercely independent woman.
Olivia's greatest fear is becoming a kept woman. She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man. Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do. But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia's world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.
As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?
My heroine, Olivia Weston, is a lady-turned-dressmaker. I was drawn to write about a character who had encountered a fair amount of adversity. Olivia must reinvent herself when her husband dies. There are few options for a Regency gal so I decided being a dressmaker would give her some autonomy and she could exercise some of her creativity.

I decided to put my money where my mouth (or rather pen) was and I began the project of making a Regency gown. I wanted to replicate, as best I could, what a true Regency dressmaker would have encountered. I sew quite a bit. I designed and made my own wedding dress without a pattern (see below) so I thought I would be up for this task.

I conceived the idea of my own version of “Say YES to the Dress”. Each week I would ask folks to weigh in on a new design element for my gown.

The first option was the color of the underdress. Then the fabric for the overdress, Next the shape of the neckline, and then the sleeve. Finally, what I called “the icing on the cake” the belt.

I used “The Ladies Stratagam” as my bible for making the gown. If you are a Regency lover this book is a must have. It is chock full of everything from pomade recipes to the correct way to rebuff an unwanted suitor.

Here are a few photos of my finished gown:

Things I learned making this gown~
1. Hand sewing a simple straight seam takes about 7 x’s longer than using a machine.
2. Use a thimble! Your fingertips will thank you. (I also used the finger tip of an old leather glove.)
3. Approximately 29 hours spent on sewing.
4. Approximately the same number of threaded needles used.
5. I often don’t breathe when I sew.
6. Back stitch! If you have to cut the fabric and have used a back stitch you won’t lose all your stitches.
7. Run your thread through bees wax. This helps with the thread snarling.
8. It is extremely hard to rip out when sewing lace. All the threads look alike.
9. It is surprisingly hard to sew in a straight line.
10. My best running stitch was 14 stitches per inch.
11. I now have arthritis in my pinkie finger.
12. Good lighting is paramount! Sewing by a window on a cloudy English day or by candlelight is not easy. (Think of being in front of your computer all day staring at tiny writing.)
Things I learned wearing this gown~
1. It is surprisingly comfortable.
2. These light gowns must have been lovely in the summer, but brutal in winter in a chilly castle.
3. You cannot do a darned thing when wearing gloves.
4. You have to be aware of the blasted train at all times! I would think it’s much like driving. You have to watch out for not only you, but the other drivers as well. (I can’t imagine negotiating a crowded ball room. No wonder there was always a maid installed in the “ladies retiring room” to mend ripped hems.)
• Believe it or not there were no dress forms in 1810.
• No standard patterns.
• Women were often measured in their corsets to maintain modesty.
• Seamstresses’ used a long, hand-made, paper “measuring tape” specifically marked for each of their clients.
• The hanger had not even been invented.
• And most women had only two or three dresses.
A favorite quote:
“The mantua-maker’s customers are not easily pleased; they frequently expect more from their dress than it is capable of giving. The mantua-maker must be an expert anatomist; and must, if judiciously chosen, have a name of French termination.”
--The Book of English Trades.
You can learn more about the evolution of this dress on my web site at:
“Could you move, please?”

Was it her imagination, or was his voice higher than usual? Then what he actually said registered.


“Yes. Could you move across the room? I find to judge a garment, or anything properly, one must see it in motion.” Her face must have been reflecting the horror she felt, for he hastened on, “You would not expect me to buy a horse simply by looking at its lines would you, Mrs. Weston? I would wish to see it run as well. I’m sure you understand.”

Blast him and his bloody horses. She strode forward, happy to vent some of her anger in movement; however, she realized a split second too late there was nowhere to move. The receiving room was not large and was mostly taken up with the cutting table. The only area with any appreciable room was at the far end of the shop where the huge paneled mirrors stood. He was standing directly in the path that would be her best direction. Consequently, she found herself almost flush up against him.
She knew he was tall. Any fool could see the man was at least two or more inches over six feet, but from this vantage point—directly beneath him—he was so very tall. She could smell the starch of his shirt mixed with a faint whiff of smoke and possibly brandy? She slid her gaze over the shirt and waistcoat to his cravat—a conservatively tied Oriental—to the firm, slightly cleft chin, moving on to the lips, very swiftly past those, and finally resting on his eyes. Pure molten gold. Yes, exactly like those of the Burmese tiger she had seen at a menagerie in Paris. His bearing was just as predatory.

“It would appear, sir, in order for me to move, as you require, you will have to bestir yourself as well.”

She thought she saw one side of his mouth shift ever so slightly upward into what might have been the merest twitch of a smile. She could not be one hundred percent sure because, to do so, she would have to look at his lips. The duke shifted his weight and made a small bow. Her shoulder brushed the superfine of his midnight blue jacket as she hurriedly squeezed past him.
She strode almost to the mirrors before wheeling around and giving him what she hoped was an accusatory look.

“Well, Your Grace. I hope you are satisfied”

“Satisfied, Mrs. Weston?” He raised that infernal eyebrow. “Oh no, madam, I am very far from satisfied. However, I am hopeful I will be, in the not so distant future.” Again his gaze raked over her. “Yes, I do live in hope.”
Jess Russell, Multi-Award Winning and Best-selling author!
As a girl Jess escaped the world of rigorous ballet class and hideous math homework into the haven of toe wriggling romance novels. She never imagined in her dyslexic brain she would ever come to write one, but one small scene grew into 359 pages, and contest wins, and multiple contract offers. Dreams sometimes do come true, just like the happy ending in the stories she loves.
Jess lives in New York City with her husband and son and disappears to the Catskill Mountains whenever she can. She is a sometime actress, award winning batik artist, and accomplished seamstress. Along with her sewing machine, she loves power tools and, what’s more, she knows how to use them.
Jess is currently working on revamping her Manhattan kitchen as well as writing two other stories, (working titles), Heart of Glass, and Mad for the Marquess. Please check them out in BOOKS.
Jess Russell is a member of RWA, as well as the Beau Monde and the NY chapters of RWA. THE DRESSMAKER’S DUKE came in first in the Fool for Love Contest, Golden Apple Awards' Secret Craving Contest, the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest and the Golden Rose Contest (also winning the best of the best). And finaled in the Great Beginnings, Emerald City Opener, and the Lone Star Contests.
Win 2 x signed copies of The Dressmaker's Duke, 2 x personalized measuring tapes, 2 x heart-shaped pocket watches!
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@jessrussellove @WildRosePress @RMBookTours

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