Thursday, February 28, 2013


 Please join me in welcoming Andrea Downing to The Roses of Prose today. And what fun to have her - she has a give away. Read to the bottom of the post and see how you can win!

     Tomorrow, sadly, is March 1st.  Why sadly?  Because in some years, tomorrow would be February 29th when a young lady has full license to ask out a man or even to propose marriage.   If you are stuck with a commitment-phobe boyfriend, have been dying to go out with that good-looking guy in your office or have just been stuck at home for the last three Saturdays dying for a date, Leap Year would be the time to take on the responsibility that usually falls to the man—doing the asking.
      The tradition of a woman proposing on Leap Year seems to have started in the Scandinavian countries where, if such a proposal was refused, there was a penalty of buying gloves or dress cloth for the woman.  Hardly good recompense for having a marriage proposal turned down!  This tradition was then brought over to Scotland by a Queen Margaret (there were several Margarets) in 1288 who had been living with her court in what is now Norway; since Margaret was aged 5 at the time this was made law, it is hardly likely to have been her idea.  Nevertheless, by the 17th Century the tradition was in place in Great Britain and eventually spread to Ireland. 
      But without Leap Year what can you do?
      Well, you can wait for November 15th, Sadie Hawkins' Day.  Sadie Hawkins' Day was started as a plot device by cartoonist Al Capp in his L'il Abner cartoon strip.  Poor ol' Sadie was said to be the ugliest woman in Dogpatch.  When she remained unwed at the ripe old age of 35, her father, the prominent, powerful and wealthy Hekzebiah Hawkins, declared a footrace in which the town's eligible bachelors were given a head start over Sadie.  But whomever Sadie caught had to marry her!  Extensive research has not divulged to me the name of the unfortunate forced into wedlock in this manner, but it has revealed that way back in 1937 when the cartoon strip appeared, it began a tradition on U.S. college campuses of Sadie Hawkins dances and races.   Think how prescient this was prior to Women's Lib!
     Nowadays, Sadie Hawkins' Day is often confused with leap year and the name applied to February 29th—but do we really need it?  Most young women I know—and my own sweet daughter is one of them—have no problem in asking men out on 'a date.'   But propose marriage?  Ah—that's a different proposition!

     I'm very happy to give away an e-copy of my book, Loveland, to the first person who can prove to me that his or her birthday is February 29th!  OK, ok:  I'll give away one free e-copy of Loveland to the first person who can find out the name of Sadie Hawkins' husband!  No?  Can't find it?  Well, my character, Lady Alexandra Calthorpe, was way before her time in pursuing a career.  If you can head on over to my website at and tell me what career Alex was pursuing and put it on a comment on the 'About the Author' page, I'll send a free e-copy of Loveland to the first person to answer correctly.  That's 3 chances to win. Good luck!

When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...
     Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.
     Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?


     As the round-up wound down, the Reps took
their stock back to their outfits, and soon the men
were back at headquarters or at the camps. Alex
knew word had more or less got out and found the
punchers were gentler now around her, had a sort of
quiet respect for her, and she hated it. She tried to
bully them a bit to show them she was still the same
girl, jolly them into joshing with her as they had
before. It was slow work. At the same time, she
yearned to see Jesse, to speak with him, to try to get
life back to the way it was before the argument at
the corral, and before he saw the scars. The
opportunity didn’t present itself. She would see him
from a distance some days, riding with the herd,
sitting his horse with that peculiar grace he had,
throwing his lariat out with an ease that reminded
her of people on a dock waving their hankies in
farewell. Hoping to just be near him, she slid into
one of the corrals one evening to practice her roping.
     The light was failing and the birds were settling
with their evening calls. Somewhere in the pasture a
horse nickered. She sensed Jesse was there,
watching, but she never turned as he stood at the
fence. She heard him climb over and ease up behind
her. He took the coiled rope from her in his left hand
and slid his right hand over hers on the swing end,
almost forcing her backward into his arms.
     She thought of paintings and statues she had
seen, imagining his naked arms now, how the
muscles would form them into long oblique curves,
how he probably had soft downy fair hair on his
forearms, how his muscle would slightly bulge as he
bent his arm. His voice was soft in her ear, and she
could feel his breath on her neck like a whispered
     “Gentle-like, right to left, right to left to widen
the noose, keep your eye on the post—are you
watchin’ where we’re goin’?”
     He made the throw and pulled in the rope to
tighten the noose. Alex stood there, his hand still
entwined with hers and, for a moment, she wished
they could stand like that forever. Then she took her
hand away and faced him. For a second he rested his
chin on the top of her head, then straightened again
and went to get the noose off the post while coiling in
the rope. She looked up at him in the fading light
and saw nothing but kindness in his face, simplicity
and gentleness that was most inviting. A smile
spread across her face as he handed her the coiled
rope and sauntered away, turning once to look back
at her before he opened the gate. Emptiness filled
her like a poisoned vapor seeking every corner of her
being, and she stood with the rope in her hand
listening to the ring of his spurs as his footsteps

Contact Andrea at:
Twitter at @andidowning
and FB page is


Anonymous said...

Hi Roses. Just want to say thanks to Brenda for having me here today. Had a great time finding out about Sadie!@

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for posting on Roses of Prose today. Your post about Feb. 29th and Sadie Hawkins day was interesting. You'e right, women today have no problem asking men out. When my youngest son was single, he was often approached. The shy ones would press her business card in his hand and tell him to call her. Things change and often that's a good thing.

Jannine Gallant said...

I didn't know Leap Day had this component to it! Thanks for sharing, Andrea, and best of luck with your book.

Andrea Downing said...

I don't know, Vonnie; I'm a bit old-fashioned about this and rather amazed when my daughter takes the initiative. But perhaps I'd feel differently if I had a shy son! Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for your good wishes Jannine. Glad you learned something new today!!!!