Sunday, September 28, 2014

Liza O'Connor investigates The Drugged Victorians

Today, we assess the common drugs used by the Late Victorians. Back then being addicted to a drug was considered unfortunate, but not due a flaw or weakness of the person. It just happened to some people.

While Sherlock Holmes was reputed to have a cocaine addiction, my character, Xavier Thorn [Who is not, nor never has been Sherlock Holmes] suffered on occasion from an opium addiction to no fault of his own. 
Seth Sojourn, one of the worst Crime Lords of the London Underworld, commonly addicted those he captured to opium. Not only did it keep them sedated and confused while a captive, but once released and returned to their government position, their addiction often kept them coming to Sojourn for the high quality Persian opium, which he would provide…for a favor or two.

Laudanum was the most common opiate consumed, mostly by the ladies and sadly, babies.

In 1860, a German chemist extracted cocaine from coca leaves. And for the record, this is not the same plant that gives us chocolate. Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylaceae coca), whereas the cocoa bean is the seed of Theobroma cacoa.) 
In 1863, a French chemist made a fortune creating a drink with cocaine in it call Vin Mariani or Elixer Mariani. (Would you like to guess what his last name was? If you guessed Mariani, pat yourself on your head.)
This drink promised to refresh the body and brain. It became incredibly popular. 

In fact, Queen Victoria praised it highly. (2 glasses held the equivalent of 50 milligrams of pure cocaine.)

It was believed to cure a plethora of problems: indigestion, melancholia, lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability—pretty much any complaint you had.
Doctors and dentist claimed it an excellent painkiller.
Mass commercialization of cocaine began 1880.

Store shops druggists would sell cocaine drops, certain to ease the sore throat and would advise it to relieve morning sickness in pregnant ladies. Cocaine was also an ingredient is several patented medicines.
I have to mention one American commercialized product: 1885, Pemberton patented the French Wine Coca nerve tonic. Pemberton was addicted to morphine & possibly ordered Vin Mariani from France and decided to make his own tonic, which he claims broke him off his morphine addiction. When prohibition occurred in the early 20th century, he altered the formula, making it non-alcoholic and it was called Coca-Cola. Pemberton claimed Coco-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia headache and impotence.

As the popularity and dependence on Opiates and Cocaine spread, doctors tried to get stricter controls on the substances through professional ethics codes. Many began to use chloral and quinine for sleep disorders and restlessness.
Which naturally prompts me to research further.
Chloral was used not only for sleep deprivation, but during hypnosis as well. While not dangerous to the users, it is fairly lethal to those making it. 4 hour of breathing the fumes leaves you with a 50% chance of dying. 

I have to assume the manufacturers had to take precautions against the fumes. Otherwise, they’d constantly be hiring new employees as the old ones died.

Quinine was a terrible substitute to cure restlessness, unless the reason you were restless was due to malaria. In fact, one of the side effects of the drug IS restlessness. However, it does drop your blood sugar, which I suppose could make you very tired.
Then in 1898, heroine shows up as a cough syrup.
Seriously, I don’t know how Victorians got anything done. They were the most doped up people imaginable.
If I time travel back to Late Victorian era, I’m avoiding all opiates and cocaine. I’d take Nitrate Oxide or willow bark as my painkillers of choice. If I absolutely had to take a sleeping pill, I would use Chloral. I’m only taking Quinine if I have malaria (which I have had and let me say, you don’t want it.)
Now let us discuss Xavier Thorn and His addiction to Opium.

The Missing Partner
Liza O'Connor
Late Victorian Humorous Mystery Series.
London, England  March 1894
Vic Hamilton takes the reins of the investigation office, while Xavier Thorn disappears on an assignment for the British government. Her caseload is entirely ‘lost and recovery’ cases. In the midst of solving all her client’s problems, she learns that the government has lost Xavier. With the help of the gypsy pirate Jacko, and her driver Davy, Vic rushes against time to rescue everyone.

Most alarming, she befriends and hires a dangerous criminal as an employee of Xavier Thorn’s Private Inquirieswithout Xavier’s permission.

We start with a short conversation between Dr. Connor & Vic:
“Xavier was unconscious during my first exam. However, once the craving for opium takes control, he’ll claim pains he doesn’t have so we’ll give him the drug he craves.”
Not wanting to insult a man who had proven vital in saving Xavier, she held her tongue. Yet, she knew her dark haired, hawk-nose partner. Opium could not undermine his strong character.


Time proved Dr. Connors’ warning all too accurate. Xavier adamantly refused to reduce the amount of opiate, even though by the second week, his wound appeared on the mend. He insisted he was in worse pain than ever.
Vic had naively believed she knew the worst of his temper from her year of employment, but this new level of anger seared her soul. After Davy found her in the kitchen crying for the third time in one day, he knelt down before her and took her hands.
“Vic, you gotta let me care for him.”
“No, I’ll—”
“This ain’t good for either of you! He needs somebody he can yell at without hurting. He needs me. You pride yourself about picking the best skilled person for a task. Well, I’m the best person for this job.”
Vic shook her head. “He’ll bully you into giving him more opiate.”
“No, he won’t. I’ve done this before.”
“Done what?” Her head popped up as she tried to make sense of his words.
“Weaned him off the drug.”
“Through the years.”
“How many times?”
Davy sighed. “This will make five. And every time it gets harder for him. This isn’t a time for you to cut teeth. You need an experienced person.”
A swell of relief overcame her as she nodded in agreement, and then it turned to shame. She shouldn’t give in so easy. He was her partner. She should be able to go through hell for him.
The truth was she wanted out. Seeing him in torment left her so helpless. And now Davy wanted to save her from this hell. But was he telling the truth when he said he could do the job, or just trying to spare her. She met his eyes. “If you’ve known you were better, why didn’t you say anything before now?”
“I’d hoped you’d pull him out faster, but you aren’t. You’re just making him hate himself for the ugly things he says. I need to take over now and get the job done professional like.”
Vic threw her arms around Davy’s neck and sobbed in helpless frustration. Then she released him, breathed in deep and stood. Davy rose as well, his eyes filled with worry.
After two deep sniffles, and drying her eyes on a sleeve of her shirt, she looked up at him. “I’m going to go downstairs and get the office in order. Then maybe I’ll go out and rustle up some business.”
“That’s a good idea. And I’ll take care of Xavier. I’m good at this.”

Book 1
The Troublesome Apprentice
 Want a free copy of The Troublesome Apprentice?
Leave me a humorous comment with your email address below.

Book 2
The Missing Partner

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Facts about Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria has one of the most interesting lives that could have gone so many different ways, and probably does in other Universes, but in ours, here are a plethora of facts you may or may not know about the girl, young woman, & Queen.


The Early Years:

The Duke of Kent is said to have visited a gypsy and was told he would have a daughter who would become a great queen.

Victoria was born in Kensington Palace, daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, 4th son of mad George III. The duke was always hopelessly in debt.

Her father died of pneumonia before her 1st birthday. She grew up in isolation.
Victoria, aged four

Painting by Stephen Poyntz Denning, 1823

Her father’s adviser, Sir John Conroy & mother attempted to keep Victoria from befriending any of the royal family, including King William IV when it became likely she would become Queen.

They tried their hardest to break her into an obedient daughter by never allowing her to be outside of their presence and constantly pushing her to make Conroy comptroller and adviser.

All her mother & Conroy’s efforts achieved was to make Victoria strong willed and stubborn.

While very ill, King William IV held on to life until Victoria turned 18, so her mother would not become regent. He died 26 days after Victoria became Queen.

Young Queen Victoria:
Coronation portrait by George Hayter
Victoria was not pretty, but in her youth she was at times considered ‘radiant’.

She took the throne at the age of 18.

She was the last monarch of England who actually had true power.

She came to rely heavily upon the advice of the First (Prime) Minister, Lord Melbourne.

She was the first royal to live in the Buckingham Palace.

To remove Conroy’s influence over her mother, she isolated the woman in a back room of Buckingham palace so Conroy would have no access to her.

Victoria considered remaining an unmarried queen, but then there would be no one else to take the throne from her family line except her despicable Uncle’s line.

She decided to marry the handsomest of her suitors, who happened to be a first cousin.

Because she was queen, she had to propose to Albert, rather than the normal procedure of the lady being asked.

 They had met when she was 17 but married when she was 21

 "Victoria Marriage01" by George Hayter - Royal Collection RCIN via Wikimedia Commons –

Victoria's Fertile Years:

During her first pregnancy in 1840, 18 year old Edward Oxford attempted to assassinate her. 

Victoria had 9 children in 18 years.

Victoria did not like babies, calling them ‘froglike’.

All her babies received their love and milk from a wet nurse.

Once the children became small humans, Victoria would talk with them.

Victoria was very hard on her children, holding them to a standard not even she kept.

Note their happy smiles in the pic below:
Albert, Victoria and their nine children, 1857.
 Left to right: Alice, Arthur, Albert, Edward, Leopold, Louise, Victoria with Beatrice, Alfred, Victoria and Helena
Caldesi and Montecchi (fl.1857-67) - Alexander Palace Forums; original in the Royal Collection RCIN 2106422

Victoria bought her husband nude pictures and a naked statue to improve his libido.

Victoria, per her diary, enjoyed sex greatly.

Albert, Victoria’s husband, did not care for his lesser role to the Queen and pushed for more say, not just in their private lives but in public as well.

Given she was pregnant, birthing, or recovering from a birth 18 years of their marriage, he took the opportunity to expand his influence.

Victoria's Greatest Loss:

Albert died early (1861) at 42. Despite a chronic illness (possibly Crohn’s disease, but diagnosed at the time as typhoid fever) he traveled to Prince Edward’s country home to scold his first born son about his inappropriate and too public love affairs. He died soon after returning to the Queen, and Victoria blamed Edward for her beloved’s death.

Even though Victoria longed to join her husband in heaven, she was determined to outlive her eldest son, Edward, so he could not take the thrown. She blamed him for the loss of her husband.

The queen went into mourning for 10 years where she filled none of her civic duties. Nor would she allow her eldest son to do so. In total she mourned her husband almost twice as long as their marriage. (Married 21 yrs, Mourned 40 yrs)

Victoria's enjoyments: 

Victoria enjoyed wine mixed cocaine drink later in life, recommending it to others.

Queen Victoria by Bassano
Victoria's Dislikes: 

Victoria did not like the Pope at all but insisted she cared about her catholic citizens.

Despite being the most powerful woman in Britain, possibly the world, she disapproved of ‘women’s rights’ and disliked suffragettes immensely.

Victoria used unusual methods to sway Parliament. In the late 1870s, she threatened to abdicate the throne 5 times in 10 months to force the new Prime Minister’s hand. Basically stating: If you will not comply with my wishes, then you can deal with my worthless son as your king.

Victoria did not approve of her eldest son, calling him immoral for his series of affairs yet she turned a blind eye to her cousin’s marriage to an actress who had 4 illegitimate children by three fathers.

Victoria also considered Edward to be lazy, even though she refused to let him become involved in royal work. Not surprisingly, the Parliament takes much power upon themselves before an untrained King Edward can take the throne.

The Queen constantly scolded Edward’s first born, Albert Eddy, for his ‘desolate lifestyle’ (We don’t know exactly what she objected to: his homosexuality, the doctors treating him for a venereal disease, or possibly she believed the woman from India who claimed Eddy had sired a bastard during his visit, or maybe it was something far worse...
Charcter of Prince Albert..."Eddy" by Vanity Fair 1888

Possibly the Queen's worst threat to England & the Crown:

Edward’s son, Albert Eddy and the young man's tutor, self-proclaimed misogynist and possible lover, James Stephens were considered possible Jack the Ripper suspects during Victorian times.

Albert Eddy had a severe learning disability and possibly a great deal of pent up anger between the turmoil going on between his father, mother, and grandmother.

The End of Jack The Ripper (Late1891) corresponds with both Albert Eddy & James Stephen's death. (Early 1892)

When Eddy died of ‘pneumonia’ and James Stephen died of ‘starvation’ 20 days later, finally Jack the Ripper stopped killing.  We are told it is a coincidence. Just as it was that the Ripper stopped killing when Eddy went to India, and began again after Eddy returned & could not marry Helene.

One final point of interest I found during my research: All but one of the women that were the common profile of Jack the Ripper kills had round dire faces like the Queen. The one that didn’t resemble the queen, oddly looks like Eddy’s mother.


The Queen kept diaries throughout her life. Upon her death, her daughter transcribed what could be made public and burned the original books.


I wondered if Victoria ever regretted not sticking to her desire to never marry and run the country by herself. I imagine she would have been a very different Queen, had she done so.

Perhaps in a different Universe she did not marry and became a great supporter of women's rights and held firm control over parliament throughout her reign.  I wonder if it would have been a wonderful or lonely reign... 

But in any case, the Duke's Gypsy should have been warned him that his daughter should avoid anyone named Edward.

Liza O'Connor writes Late Victorian Mysteries and Romances.

Book 1
The Troublesome Apprentice

Book 2
The Missing Partner

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today, I'm at Jenna Jaxon's discussing if Victor saving servants from the white slavery could have really happened. 

Check out why it could and in fact still happens in England. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Last day to buy The Troublesome Apprentice for 99 cents.

What the blazes are you waiting for? This bargain cannot occur again, even if Liza wished it for many months. Stop pondering the matter and buy the book!

Oh, very well, if you require proof of worthiness to purchase, here's  but a small sample of what reviewers have said about the book:

5 stars 
"O'Connor has captured the language and rhythm of my favorite Conan Doyle novels with a fresh twist."

5 stars 
"Totally sexy but also a great send up of classic mysteries: Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle eat your heart out!"

5 stars
"I couldn't put this book down! Liza weaves a gripping tale full of mystery and well rounded characters."

Not a single reviewer had a sour note to sing.
All loved, or liked it very much.

I tell you, as a man with an all too frequent opium addiction, once you begin reading, you may not be able to stop. However, this is an addiction worth having.

So go now and buy the book!

Book 1
The Troublesome Apprentice
Only 99 cents from 9/15 – 9/21

Book 2
The Missing Partner

Thursday, September 18, 2014

MEET TUBS, The Deadliest Man in England

Today, we'll meet what very well could be the most dangerous man alive. His name is Sonny Tubs. By the time he was six, he was doing the work of a full grown man. Given his massive size: 7 foot, 400 pounds of muscle, not surprisingly the criminal elements hired him as 'muscle'.

Tubs was not by nature a mean or angry man, but his life has led him to expect the worse out of men and women. He's killed over a hundred men, all worthless scum, but still, he doesn't expect a grand welcome in heaven.

The current top crimelord of the Victorian Underworld uses him solely as muscle, mistakenly thinking him a brainless ox. Actually, Tubs is highly intelligent and finely skilled (in illegal doings) such a picking locks and safe cracking. Also people tend to sputter out the truth when he asks them a question, so he's an excellent interrogator. In addition, he's light on his feet, as Victor discovered when she woke to a noise downstairs.

Victor bolted upright and stared about the dark room. Her blood rushed through her veins as her senses heightened. Something had woken her. Xavier? She rushed to the door, opened it and listened. She heard metallic scratching on the front door downstairs.
Damnation! Some rascal is trying to break into our office!
Thankfully, she had fallen asleep in her clothes. She preferred to meet this intruder man to man. She grabbed her pistol and stormed downstairs.
Having lost all her patience with people, she was tempted to open the door and shoot whoever chiseled at the lock. She might have done so, if not for the memory of a prior client who had broken into their office just so he could place his name in the appointment book and bypass the twenty-four hour rule. While she did not wish to encourage clients to break in and set their own appointments, she did not think the behavior warranted a death sentence.
So she waited…and waited. As the minutes passed, she grew angry at the intruder’s incompetence. Now, she was tempted shoot him for professional reasons. If a person is going to pick the lock, then they should at least have some skill. The door handle would probably look like it was ravaged by an iron-billed woodpecker by the time this fool finished the job.
She sighed and set the gun on the desk as she rubbed her eyes. “There should be a competency law,” she grumbled.
A chuckle alerted her someone else was in the room. Xavier? As she turned toward the noise, someone shoved a dirty rag in her mouth, and threw a large canvas bag over her head.
While the idiot at the door might be incompetent, this person proved very skilled at abduction. He had her muted, trussed, and bundled in less than a minute.
You would think the incompetent person attempting to break in would appreciate Tubs assistance, but the obnoxious man he'd been 'loaned' to was the scoundral who had forced a large quantity of pretty maids and garden boys into white slavery and he was not grateful in the least, harping the whole way to Dragon's Cloud about Tubs' inability to follow orders.

By the time Tubs carried her up to a room on the fifth floor of questionable establishment, both she and Tubs were sick to death of the whining complaints.

And thus began the most unlikely friendship ever formed.
another one.

Mr. Tubs carried her upstairs and down a hall with creaky boards. He entered a room with low moans and then climbed more stairs to a second room. He tossed her onto the floor and yanked the bag off her, taking a handful of her hair with it.
She squealed in pain.
“Sorry about that.”
Blinking several times, she took in the giant behemoth. He looked more bored than sorry, but at least he didn’t seem angry.
Every inch of his massive body was a testimony to violence. She suspected he could kill a person with the swat of one hand. His shoulders had to be almost four feet wide.
He shook a giant finger in her face. “No screaming. I’ve had enough squawking today.”
When he removed the foul-tasting rag, Vic nodded and spit profusely.
From a pitcher on the table, he poured her a glass of water and held it to her mouth. She took a mouthful of the cloudy water, swished it about, and then spit it out on the floor. “Thanks,” she said, hoping to soften his reaction to her bad manners of spewing the water on the floor.
Mr. Tubs’ face shifted into either an evil grimace or a defective smile with very bad teeth. “I like you, kid. Sorry I didn’t just follow orders tonight.”
Vic grimaced. “Me too. The world would be less one incompetent blue jay if you had.”
Mr. Tubs ‘hoofed’ a few times, which Vic interpreted as laughter. “That’s a good name for him. However, don’t tell anyone else that. It’ll get back to his wife and she’s a bad one to cross.”
Just then, the blue jay in question fluttered into the room and after a brief glare at Vic continued his attack on Tubs. “I told you to put him in the other room. Are you incapable of following the simplest order?”
Tubs rose so he towered two feet over Jonston and huffed, causing a small breeze to unsettle the butler’s hair. “The other room is occupied.”
“By whom?”
“By a special guest of you know who.”
Tubs said this with great emphasis, making Vic suspect he was talking about Xavier. “Am I in Dragon’s Cloud?”
Both men stared at her in shock.
“How do you know that?” Jonston asked.
With his unintentional confirmation, Vic smiled. “I didn’t until now. I’ve always wanted to know what went on here, but everyone keeps telling me to stay away from the place.”

Her answer calmed the bad butler into thinking her nothing more than a harmless fool. However, Mr. Tubs brow furrowed.
What happens next is a delightful discussion of the animal kingdom during which Vic and Tubs become friends. Vic is the first person who has EVER been nice to Tubs.  
Finally, he has met a person worth knowing.
Later, when she offers him a job working for her and Xavier, he accepts at once. Thus explaining how the deadliest man in England becomes its dedicated protector. 

Book 1
The Troublesome Apprentice
Only 99 cents from 9/15 – 9/21

Book 2
The Missing Partner

Just in case you missed the fine red print:
Yes, I am!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014



ON SEPT 16 & 18

Rosanna Leo presents Predator's Fire

Today, I have the fabulous Rosanna Leo over to tell you about her latest in her Predator Series.

“When a Secondary Character Demands His Own Book”

I’d like to thank the lovely Liza for hosting me today. I’m here to share a little bit about my recent release, Predator’s Fire, Gemini Island Shifters 5. This latest instalment in the series was one I just had to write. It was one of those cases where a minor character from another book just won’t leave you alone until you write him a book. I’m sure many authors understand this feeling.

Each time I’ve begun a new series, I’ve had an overall sense of where I want the series to go, but I’m not one of those authors who outlines out each and every possible outcome. I like to leave room to explore other ideas. I certainly had no idea when I began the Gemini Island Shifters series that it would be so embraced by readers and reviewers.

The hero of the latest book, Killian Moon, first showed his face in book 3, as a potential rival for the heroine. We knew Killian was a good guy, but because the hero Anton felt threatened by him, there was an aura of danger about him. I fell in love with him then. Although I had no other plans for Killian at the time, he remained in my mind. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted his own romance…and his own heroine, thank you very much.

And so, I’ve expanded on Killian’s bizarre and tragic history for book 5. We caught a glimpse of his fiery past earlier, but in his book the reader will learn exactly what impact his family had on him and how he’s had to struggle. He’s the only fire setter hero I’ve ever run into in a romance book. Fire setters are often the villain, but we see how my jaguar shifter has had to overcome his inclinations. Luckily, the romance is also hot.

I hope you enjoy this story.

Liza: I'm sure we will! Check out the gorgeous cover!

When Nina Suzuki discovers the body of her best friend Janine, her world turns upside down. Things go from bad to worse when Janine’s corpse seems to transform into that of a large, brown wolf. For the first time, Nina is faced to confront all the clues indicating her BFF was not what she seemed. A letter from the dead woman opens Nina’s eyes to a strange, new world. The same letter warns of a sinister group called the Alpha Brethren, and urges her to find Killian Moon of the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island.

Killian Moon is a jaguar shifter and teen mentor at the Ursa Lodge in Northern Ontario. He may be a comfort and inspiration to confused teen shifters, but he also has a fiery past. His past comes back to haunt him when human Nina arrives at the resort, demanding to speak with him. Demanding answers. Can he trust her with knowledge that will not only change her life, but possibly endanger those around him?

As Killian begrudgingly tutors Nina on all things shifter, their mutual curiosity flares into passionate need. Once they touch, once they succumb to desire, there is no going back. Killian realizes Nina is his mate and they both begin to comprehend the terror threatening those on their shifter-friendly island. He is forced to confront the tragedy in his family and determines to protect Nina at all costs.
But can they protect everyone they love from a cult of dangerous shifters, intent on horror and destruction?

“How much longer do I have to wait? I want to see Killian Moon. Now.”

The feminine voice, strangely soft despite its insistence, echoed deep in his being, awakening his jaguar. The great cat roared to life, turned toward the office and inhaled deeply. Its eyes flashed in interest.


Killian breathed in at the same time, catching the scent of cherry blossoms through the door. The sweet perfume, mixed with human outrage, proved a heady distraction, making him forget why he was there. Shaking his head, he tried to dismiss the odd sensation as Ryland opened the door.

The door swung open and the first person he glimpsed was one of the clerks from reception, trying his hardest to placate the unexpected guest. “I’m sure Mr. Snow and Mr. Moon will be right back.”

And then his gaze landed on the petite human. Tapered Asian eyes, so dark and mysterious, but rimmed with circles of exhaustion. Smooth, cinnamon skin hinted at a mixed background. 
Wearing no makeup, she appeared younger than she must be, but her presence and keen eyes pegged her at around thirty years old. She had a riot of curly, black hair and feminine curves that ought to come with a warning. He could see it now. Beware: this woman’s body will cause insanity in men. Even as she gesticulated at the clerk, her boobs jiggled in such a way his throat went dry.

He pictured her in a corset, her breasts spilling over delicate lace edging, and almost forgot his name.

This Nina Suzuki was damn hot and his jaguar seemed to agree. The animal licked its lips, its golden gaze assessing and appreciating every detail, from her rounded hips to her come-hither rack.

Yes, the creature uttered on a frenzied breath.

Predator’s Fire, Gemini Island Shifters 5, 
will be available at 
 Also at Kobo, B&N and other outlets.