Saturday, May 12, 2012

Medieval Romance and Paranormal Suspense - by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

When I carried wood as a pre-teen so my Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, I wasn't thinking, "I could use this in a novel someday." Yet almost 60 years later, the skills I learned from my horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for my historical romance novels. Growing up with paternal grandparents born in the 1890's made creating historical novels a logical choice.


When I carried wood as a pre-teen so my Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, I wasn’t thinking, “I could use this in a novel someday.” Yet, the skills I learned from my horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for my medieval romantic suspense novels. Until doing research, I didn't realize how many cooking and household tools and utensils were still in use at the turn of the 20th century which were similar to those in use in the Middle Ages.

  • The biggest surprise was the grinding wheel. My grandfather had one in the garage to sharpen knives. I found the only modern difference was that my grandfather’s wheel had a section of rubber tire to hold water to wet the stone.

  • My great aunt used wooden spoons for cooking and pewter platters for serving. She dried her long hair in the sun or in front of the fire. Chamber pots were under the bed and the outhouse was down the path.

  • Ceramic basins in bedrooms were filled from pitchers of warmed water brought upstairs from the kitchen. A washcloth and sudsy water in a basin were used for daily bathing. The Saturday night bath was in the metal washtub and set up in the kitchen to be close to the water boiled on the cooking stove and the only source of running water inside the house. (My great aunt had a hand pump outside.) The kitchen location for the washtub also made it easier to drain the water afterward.

  • My great aunt had a root cellar dug into the ground which kept her stored foods at a cool temperature. Berries and nuts were gathered from the woods and canned or dried to eat during the winter. Throw rugs were draped over the clothesline and the dirt beat out of them periodically with a wire carpet beater.

  • She made her own starch and the lye soap for doing the laundry. A metal iron was heated on the wood-burning stove before ironing her clothes.

  • The local farmers brought to the door, freshly slaughtered meat or harvested fruits and vegetables. Life was at a much slower pace.

Those days are gone and that's fine by me. Hanging heavy, soaking, dripping wash on the clothesline in the cold of winter with my fingers freezing to the clothespins was not my cup of tea. The backbreaking work tending a vegetable garden and farm animals was also not for me. A well-stocked grocery store suits me just fine.

What I got from those times spent with my grandparents’ generation and was a sense of their daily lives before technology. No plastic, no vacuum cleaners, no wash machines and dryers, no t.v., no phones, no box stores, no cars, no jet planes, no Internet.

I transfer those intimate details into my manuscripts. By doing so, I create for you the experience of medieval times just by reading MATILDA'S SONG and OUT OF THE DARK.


JoAnn Ainsworth (

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Duty requires sacrifice…but the heart will not be denied

At the time, pretending marriage to her middle-aged widower cousin seemed like the best way to escape a politically motivated betrothal to a brutal knight. Now, her journey toward a new life has landed her in hot water—she’s been waylaid by a local Norman baron who’s mistaken her for a real bride. And he demands First Night rights.

Hot water turns to steam in a scalding night of passion…passion she has never known. And now must live without.

Lord Geoffrey is entranced at first sight of the Anglo-Saxon beauty and finds that one night in her arms is not nearly enough. But all he can offer the low-born Matilda is a life in the shadows—as his mistress.

Back Cover Blurb OUT OF THE DARK ISBN: 978-1-60504-277-0

Blinded—she by nature, he by loyalty.

As a blind woman seen as a flawed commodity, Lady Lynnet is used to the idea that she's unlovable. But her parents' plan to force her into a loveless marriage is too much. Wandering, upset and lost in the cellars of the king's castle, the darkness doesn't frighten her, but the murder plot she overhears chills her to the bone. Worse, no one believes her, and the only one she can turn to is a Norman sheriff whose voice sounds disturbingly like one of the conspirators.

Basil, Sheriff of London, is battle-hardened, fiercely loyal—and torn apart. He's falling in love with the Saxon beauty, and he longs to show her she is worthy of love despite her physical limitation.

But the very corruption she is helping him root out may implicate his own half brother. How can he turn his back on family—for an Anglo-Saxon woman?

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