Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Heather Snow: Madness in Regency and Victorian England

Hello. Thank you so much for inviting me to visit…I’m thrilled to be here!

A little about me for those who don’t know me: I’m a sleep-deprived mother of two young boys, known affectionately on social media as The Heir and The Spare. I’m an avid reader…or at least I was before deadlines and diaper duty. Now I’m more of an avid listener—God bless audiobooks! I’m a cat person who somehow just got tricked into agreeing to get a dog this summer (rotten husband…and he said it in front of the boys, who are now over the moon. I would be an evil mommy to say no now…), and I write historical romance with heroines who put the blue in bluestocking, the men who love them and the mysteries they have to solve.

Oh, and my latest novel starts in a sanatorium for the insane.

“What?”, you say.  “Don’t you write regency romance???”, you ask. “Shouldn’t you be putting your characters in a ballroom and make them be witty?”  Well, yes…and there are a couple of ballroom scenes, I promise.  But from the moment the story of SWEET MADNESS gripped me, it wouldn’t let me go.  And so I wrote it.

SWEET MADNESS is the story of strong man brought low, a traumatized soldier now facing the terrifying prospect of losing his mind. But Gabriel is a fighter…hope burns eternal in his heart and he’s willing to do what it takes to get well. Luckily for him, our heroine, Penelope, knows what it takes and is willing to fight by his side.

I did a lot of research about how “lunatics” were perceived and treated at the time, most of which couldn’t go into the book… It is a romance, after all, and as I’m sure you can imagine, the mentally ill were not dealt with in the most humane and compassionate manner in those days. But I thought I might share a little about it here with you today.

The study of mental maladies was a very muddy field in the 19th century…no one could agree on just what it was that caused insanity in a person. Some thought madness to be evidence of moral failing on the part of the patient. Others thought it was due to an imbalance of bodily humors. Some still suspected the devil had a hand in lunacy.

What can be agreed on, however, is that the treatments were barbaric. I won’t go into much detail here, but picture restraints (from straight waistcoats to chains, to being strapped in chairs for hours, days, even weeks at a time and even put in cages), purges (to force a patient to vomit out the bad humors), being plunged into freezing or very hot water, blistering (where hot rocks raise blisters all over your body, which are then lanced and drained to rid you of your bad humors) and much worse. It is not a pretty picture.

Nor is it one that I paint in Sweet Madness. Rather Sweet Madness is a story of the healing power of love. Yes, my hero suffers some of these treatments. In fact, he chooses to undergo them out of desperation. He’d do anything to be returned to the man he once was. Before the wars. Before whatever strange malady struck him and threatened his sanity and his future. But they happen long before our heroine comes onto the scene with scars of her own as well as her own compassionate approach…one that puts them both on the path to recovery.

I hope you enjoy Penelope and Gabriel’s journey.

Thank you so much for having me here today! While I’m here, I’d love to do a giveaway. One winner will get their choice of the first two books in the series, SWEET ENEMY or SWEET DECEPTION (which recently won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for published historical romance!).

Just answer me this question: What advances in medicine understanding or technology are you most grateful for?

Ever since her husband’s sudden and tragic death, Lady Penelope Bridgeman has dedicated herself to studying maladies of the mind, particularly those of soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars, but Gabriel Devereaux’s unpredictable episodes are like none she’s ever seen. Even though she knows the folly of loving a broken man, she can’t help herself from trying to save him, no matter the cost…

Read the Prologue and First Chapter HERE...

*Just as Sweet Madness is a story of the healing power of love, it is also a story of hope. Gabriel is a fictional war hero but there are many real life heroes and their families suffering today. Therefore, my husband and I have decided to donate a portion of all royalties earned from the sale of SWEET MADNESS to Hope For The Warriors®, an organization dedicated to “restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.” You can find out more at

Heather Snow is an award winning historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she preferred creating chemistry on the page rather than in the lab. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys and one very put upon cat. Mr. Snow has promised the boys a dog this summer. The cat is not happy.
The final book in her Veiled Seduction series, SWEET MADNESS, hit shelves April 2, 2013. RT Book Reviews Magazine gives it 4 ½ stars, saying “In this emotional, compassionate romance...the powerful love story will sweep readers away."
Find out more at or connect with Heather at , or at her blog, Heather’s Historical Reader Salon at

***Heather's winner is Lory Lee!  Please email with your mailing information! Thanks.***


Annie West said...

Heather, your books sound fascinating! I was rereading 'Flowers From the Storm' recently, which, like yours, makes you grateful for the advances in medical science and treatment. As for which I'm particularly grateful for - it's so hard to choose. I think perhaps antibiotics - something we take for granted but which make such a difference. Alternatively pacemakers - both my father and father and law are onto their second pacemakers each and we're so grateful to have them, which we wouldn't without the pacemakers.

Stefanie said...

Actually I'm grateful for something that's very common these days: anti-conception. Being able to limit the number of children you have (so you can provide for all of them and give them a bright future, or so your body can cope with all of your pregnancies) and to prevent certain diseases.

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

Better living thru chemistry.. my family has a history of high blood pressure and we all take medication to control it. My dh also has it, and was treated in high school with valium
I do think that in movies like 'Hunger Games' you could get rid of a huge piece of the world's population by removal of prescription drugs..

Laurie G said...

Insulin for the treatment of diabetes- My grandfather died from gangrene at the age of 60.

MRI - for body scanning to locate tumors etc

Anti-cancer drugs, Anti AIDS drugs,

Antibiotics - two of my children have been diagnosed with MERSA.

I can't count the numerous infections I've had over the years: yeast, mastitis, ear, fungal, wound, urinary.....

Heart By Pass surgery- My dad had it twice 14 years apart

Vaccinations- for polio, all of the children's series

Prostetic devices

Blood typing for blood transfusions, Rhogan for RH-

Birth control pills and devices

Cesarean sections

Rabies shots

Screenings for diseases: colon, mammograms

Pat Cochran said...

Everything in modern day medicine, all
the procedures we take for granted in
the medical, surgical, and diagnostic
fields.The monitor I just used to check
my diabetic blood sugar. The instrumen-
tation used to determine a patient has
cancer and then remove it from the body.
I could go on and on, listing all of to-
day's life-saving and life-maintaining

Lil said...

Studies for pain management. Some pains can be alleviated to a large degree by exercise and diet while other types must use medication, etc. I cannot imagine what life would be like for a fair amount of the people I see, without advances in this area.

little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

PS.. obiedience training is a must for dogs...

Barbara E. said...

I think diagnostic tools like mammograms, ultrasounds, MRI's and CAT scans are fantastic and help save lives. I have had a couple of minor worries, recently an ultrasound to check for a blood clot really set my mind at ease. If there had been one, at least I could have had it treated, I think that's wonderful.

Martha Lawson said...

I'm glad for antibiotics and also that they no longer use leeches!!! Thanks for the chance.

Heather Snow said...

Hi guys! I'm SO sorry I didn't get a chance to comment yesterday (though I did read comments on my phone!) Had a snafu with babysitter and the boys ran me was the first nice day here in a while, so it was just as well. We spent it outside together

Heather Snow said...

It is amazing what they can see now without being invasive...such a blessing!

Heather Snow said...

Oh my...I am SO not ready for a dog. I can barely handle the kids... HELP!!! :)

Heather Snow said...

Yep...get rid of drugs (especially antibiotics) and we're toast. The stories that scare me really badly are the strains of antibiotic resistant bugs that are heading our terrifying!

Heather Snow said...

Great point, Lil.

Lory Lee said...

I'm glad that "generic medicines" are coming out since not everyone can buy those Über expensive medicines. It saddens me every time I go out to buy my mom's meds and see those people shaking their heads every time the pharmacists tell them the price of their medicines.

Eli Yanti said...

I'm greateful for all medicine even thought health is what people always want but when we get pain althougth a just get cold, stomach ache you will really want the pain is gone.

Chrisbails said...

Any of the medicines like antibodics, pain relievers, and more advanced care. Being able to diagnose illnesses better and help cure and/or prevent them.
christinebails at yahoo dot com