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Category: News


Waiting eagerly for Michael Stokes's INVICTUS coffee table picture book, featuring gorgeous, stunning photographs of vets wounded in Iraq & Afghanistan.  So I was super happy to get this little video clip today, updating Kickstarter supporters on its progress.

Check it out!

Wage Disparity in the Middle Ages...and romance, where the little guy wins

(Note: I will be sharing medieval info at the beginning of this post, and editorializing in a sarcastic manner by the end.)

William the Conqueror, aka William The Bastard, summa cum laude of the Battle of Hastings and conqueror of England, was worth what would today be over $189 billion dollars, U.S., post conquering.

William de Warenne, one of the Bastard’s stewards, was worth about $121bn in today’s dollars.

Richard fitzAlan, one of the brutal Sir de Warenne’s descendants & a leader himself in the Hundred Years’ War, comes in at a net worth of about $100bn U.S.

Double-Duke John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III, was worth what would be today over $91 billion.

The list goes on.

This sort of wage/wealth gap between rich and poor was par for the course in the middle ages.

In the 1370’s, the average English weaver was making about 700 deniers (aka: pence, aka: that’s pennies) a year.

A mason was bringing home about 1000/yr, which can be seen as somewhat a representative income for merchants & craftsman—the newly developing ‘middle class.’

(An aside, b/c I'm big on asides…this ‘middle class’ spent about 25% of their disposable income on alcohol, mostly beer. Go, Englishmen, and the women who brewed it! Another almost-quarter of total income was spent on housing costs, and, good Lord, almost 65%, of total income went for TAXES. B/C those big social safety nets of the middle ages… And thus we see the major feeder tube for the Peasant’s Revolt.)

Back to our task…

The warden of London Bridge was raking in over twice what a mason did, almost 2500 annually, which doesn’t count all the bribes and payoffs he could count on, too. Score.

A baron could count on about 48,000. That’s 48x times as much as the ‘not-wealthy-but-still-buying-a-lot-of-beer' mason and his economic cohorts.

An earl was bringing in about 96,000. That’s 96 times as much.

That's some pretty big income disparities, but the really big outliers, like The Bastard and his BFFs, were less common. 

And let's recall, yes, those nobles were big on ostentatious wealth and sticking it to the little guy, but they also were fighting wars, paying soldiers, ordering goods & sometimes paying for them, i.e. reinvesting in the society with that take-home money (and of course, the looting during the wars, assuming they won, but that's another story…)

The point being, there was cyclical reinvestment by the uber-wealthy: they took it, but they spent it too.

As for the existence of such a pervasive & insane wealth disparity, well, thank goodness we don't have to worry about that anymore in the States.  Because it would create a de facto nobility, as opposed to, you know, a representative democracy.  Thank goodness that's all in the past, part of a darker, less democratic world.

Oh, wait.

The AFL-CIO estimated the *average* CEO in the U.S. in 2014 earned 373 times as much as the average U.S. worker.  (Of note, that’s the AVERAGE ceo, not a smattering of Rockefeller or Vanderbilt or John Jacob Astor outliers. Average CEO take-home pay.)

But wait, there’s more. It’s like a ginsu knife. Because that 373:1 ratio vastly under reports the difference. It's actually more like 949:1.

Now, the real truth probably lies somewhere in between, because that higher, ‘take-home pay' ratio includes stock-based pay, which varies. So we’re talking somewhere between 373x’s (straight compensation) and almost 1000x’s more (including stock-based pay) than the average worker.

In either case, I claim WTFery. (excuse my foul-mouthed acronym-ing)

One could almost be forgiven for saying that's not free enterprise.That it's more like hijacking free enterprise. 

There are several theoretical definitions/understandings of what ‘capitalism' is, how it relates to a larger political structure, and what it can, or should, do.  But this sort of accrual of vast wealth to the few, with such large disparity between them and the rest of society, is not the sort of thing that can exist for long in a representative democracy before it ceases to be a democracy in even the loosest sense of the term.   That it becomes, in fact, far more like the middle ages. Only worse.

One could be forgiven…

Which is why I think a lot of my stories are about the little guy winning against unbeatable odds, a seemingly hopeless situation.  I admit it, I carry my modern sensibilities and values into my historicals, but I think that one, the little guy triumphing in a system stacked against them, is pretty timeless.  And it (hopefully!) brings hope and inspiration to readers.

What stories have you loved where the little guy triumphed??

The Contemporary World

I write sexy medieval romance adventures but, as some of you already know, I also write hot, dirty-sexy, fun contemporary romances.

Yep. Check out the link on my website to Bella Love Books for proof.

More proof: here's an excerpt from the current work-in-progress, DARE, a continuation of Finn & Janey's story in SPIN. → → →

Warning: If you're not in the mood for hot and dirty, stop reading, now!  Otherwise, step into the parlor….   Or rather, the construction zone.


I stood back, shoulder against a beam, watching him beat a nail into submission in the hot rays of late afternoon sunlight.  When he was done, he stepped back and wiped the inside of his forearm across his face, wiping away sweat.

I grabbed a little hand towel from the work table and handed it over, along with the bottle of water.

He smiled and took the towel and wiped his face, then took the water and drank, then looked into my eyes for a second. “I’d kiss you, but I’m all sweaty,” he said in apology, holding up his dusty hands as proof.

“I don’t care,” I said, complaining.

“You would if I got your pretty shirt all sweaty.”

I looked away, definitely pouting now, and touched a few things on the work table while he drank the water. 

“What you want, baby?” he said, all common man, water dropping off his chin.

“A problem to fix, maybe a disaster.  Sex.  A good movie. Something.”

“Spreadsheets got you down?” he said, teasing softly.

I twirled a penny I found on the table.  “I’m think I’ve got them conquered but….”

He leaned a shoulder against the beam and waited.

The penny dropped and I looked up. “They’re boring.”

Our eyes met. “And so you want dirty sex to crack the boredom,” he summarized.


Slowly, he smiled, then wiped his inner forearm over his face again.

Having unloaded on him, I turned away, surrendering to the fact that I had spreadsheets in my immediate future, not Finn doing bad boy things to me. “Well, I better get back to it. Come in inside when you’re ready to rescue me with dirty sex, and if I’m not dead yet, I’ll be waiting,” I said glumly, moving toward the door.

His hand grabbed me from behind and turned me and slammed me, not very gently, up against one of the construction beams. I gave a gasp of shock and stared at him.


He looked down at me, all hard male planes of jaw and chin. “How dirty?”

My body went electric. That’s all it took, a two-word question, with all the promise of Finn behind it, and my body ignited.  

“Well,” I said shakily. “I was pretty bored, so….”

“So really dirty?”

“I think maybe-”

My wrists were gripped in one of his hard hands before the words were out. He grabbed a rope and circled it around my wrist, then knotted it and threw the excess over a high beam. It fell down and he tied it off. My wrist was bound.

“Jesus, Finn,” I whisper-gasped.  “What are you doing?”

“Tying you up,” he said, real casual, then did the same thing to my other hand, until I was trussed up like a horse in a stable, ready for grooming. My arms dangled, elbows bent at shoulder height, my wrists wrapped in soft cotton rope. 

“Finn,” I said in a warning tone.

He crouched in front of me and took my calf in his hand. I went stock still, except for, well, my entire body, which began shaking. “Finn,” I whispered sternly, as if someone could hear us from a hundred and fifty acres away.

“Yeah?” he said, not looking up as he lashed another rope around my ankle.

“What are you doing?”

The rope tightened, just a little, around my ankle as he flung the end of it around the nearby post and snaked it back to him.  “I’m tying you up,” he said again, maybe a little impatient that we’d already had a similar conversation.

“And then what?”

“Then I’m going to fuck your brains out.”

“Oh shit,” I whispered as he got to his feet and, now that I was all neatly knotted and trussed, he…went inside.

“Um, Finn?” I called out.

I heard the sound of water running. “What?”

“What are you doing?”

“Washing my hands.”

Oh, good. Not that I had specific fears about running water, but with Finn, you just never knew what he might have in mind.

And I loved it all.

Which scared me a lot.  Everything I thought I couldn’t do, couldn’t handle, Finn kept showing me I could.  God knows where we were headed next, emotionally speaking. And every other way.

He came back out, drying his hands on a towel, looking me over somewhat coolly.  His face revealed nothing, he looked impassive and remote, but a huge erection was pushing at the front of his jeans. 

“You look pretty good,” he said distantly, his gaze raking down me.


“You’d look better with that shirt off though.”

“Well, I’m tied up, so—”

“And your shorts pulled down.”

Electric threads of heat snapped through me as he came to me. His hand, hard and work-hardened, skimmed gently down the front of me, and my head went back a bit. “How much do you like this shirt?” he asked, real soft.

“I hate this shirt,” I panted.

He reached for a knife in his tool belt and slit it right the hell open, like I was some spoil of war, slit it open down the front of me, until it hung like a tattered flag of a distant past where I once cared about silk shirts.

I almost came right there. My body jerked with a hard gasp. “Oh God.”

He saw the jerk, heard the gasp,  and smiled.  “Like that, babe? You want it rough?”

“Oh, God.” I couldn’t do anything but take the Lord’s name in vain.

He snapped the blade shut and tossed it onto the work bench, then reached both hands to my shorts and unbuttoned them, then unzipped, then roughly shoved them down as far as they would go, to mid thigh.

And there I was, hanging with ripped open shirt and my denim shorts around my thighs, my ankles tied to post beams, waiting for Finn to fuck my brains out.

He smiled and unbuckled his tool belt, like he was in some strip show, and everything on me that was woman did its thing: my nipples got hard, my pussy got wet, my skin rippled with a wave of hot-cold chills that made my head jerk back.

“Take off your jeans,” I whispered, wanting more show.


I dragged my head back down. “‘Nope’?” I repeated, because that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

“I’m dressed, you’re not.”

“Right,” I said in an exhale. “I noticed that.”

“That’s not an observation, it’s information. That’s how it’s gonna go. You’re vulnerable, I’m not. You’re screaming and coming, I’m watching, making it happen.”

“Oh God,” I whispered. I was doomed. And loving it.


Soon, my lovelies, soon…..

If you have yet to read SPIN, you can get it here:

AmazoniBooks  |  Nook  | Kobo