You may have noticed that I didn't celebrate my birthday on the blog last month. It wasn't that I forgot...though I'm certainly old enough where that could be a legitimate concern. And it wasn't that this was a milestone year that I would have preferred to ignore...though it was the birthday year that one of my brothers dubbed "social and secure." Yeah, it was that one. However, the real reason I didn't throw a Dish party this year is that I had decamped to the other coast for the week.
I decided to give myself a birthday gift this year and that gift was a week in Spokane, Washington. Okay, I can see you all shaking your heads and muttering, "Spokane?" True, it had never been on my list of must-see places but I had good reasons for going there. Very good reasons. Authors Delilah Marvelle and Renee Bernard were hosting the inaugural Historical Romance Retreat in Spokane and one of my favorite authors (and people), Anna Campbell was coming over from Australia for the first time in six years. Happy Birthday to me!
Anna and I flew into town on Monday and spent a few days playing tourist before the Historical Romance Retreat (HRR) began on Thursday. I really didn't know anything about Spokane before arriving but it's a lovely city, steeped in history and resplendent in its natural beauty. We saw a lot in our three days while barely scraping the surface of all she has to offer.
Spokane has acres of beautiful parks. The Japanese and Rose gardens at Manito Park were my favorites.
They have good restaurants too. My birthday dinner at Clinkerdagger (located in a 100 year old flour mill) was fabulous. In fact, we enjoyed our dinners so much we went back there again the next night!
Arts and Culture are key components of life in Spokane as evidenced by the many beautiful sculptures are found throughout the city.
Spokane also has a beautiful Riverfront and waterfall that winds through the downtown area.
On Wednesday, Anna and I left our hotel on the Riverfront and moved over to the Historic Davenport Hotel, a Spokane landmark where history lurks in every corner. The hotel opened in 1914 and, as their website notes, is a "singular combination of world-class service, palatial splendor, and inviting warmth." For this first Historical Romance Retreat, I could not have imagined a more perfect location. From the moment I walked through the doors, it was as if I stepped back in time.
The kind gentleman who delivered my luggage to my room was very concerned about my ability to get into the (very high) bed without the aid of stairs. For the record, I managed on my own but I'm oh so glad nobody thought to take a video of the process! LOL!
I don't think I have enough superlatives to describe how wonderful the 2016 HRR was. Everything about it was exquisite, beginning with Thursday's night's showing of the 1951 romantic comedy, The Law and the Lady at the elegant Bing Crosby Theater next door to the hotel.
That was followed by high tea Friday afternoon...
a rousing good time at gambling night...
the book signing Saturday afternoon...
the Grand Ball Saturday night...
(Husbands got into the spirit of things too!)
and a farewell breakfast on Sunday.
In between those fabulous events was plenty of time for relaxing, chatting with other historical romance readers and authors, and a quick trip to beautiful Coeur d'Alene, Idaho with Anna Campbell, Elizabeth Boyle, and Laura Lee Guhrke.
All in all, the Historical Romance Retreat was a fabulous experience that I can't wait to repeat in 2017!
Jenn LeBlanc welcoming attendees!
Not everyone dressed in costume but those who did looked fabulous. And many who did made their own costumes. I am in awe of their talent!
Author Anthea Lawson and her husband provided beautiful music for high tea.
Elizabeth Essex looking like she stepped from the pages of a book.
Renee Bernard, ready for a night at the Regency style gambling tables!
The fabulous Delilah Marvelle at the Grand Ball.
Erin Knightley, Ashlyn MacNamara, and Valerie Bowman are ready to dance the night away.
Laura Lee Guhrke. Love her books!
My wonderful roommate, Rose Lerner, looking very chic 1920's style.
May I have this dance?
Delilah Marvelle and her husband waltzing the night away at the HRR Grand Ball.
With the lovely Tessa Dare. Have you read her fabulous Do You Want to Start a Scandal yet? My favorite historical romance of 2016!
The adorable and very talented Wendy LaCapra.
Hanging out with Karen Hawkins who always makes me laugh.
Katherine Bone ready to sail away on the high seas.
Elizabeth Hoyt and Madeline Hunter
Julie Johnstone. Love her Scottish medieval romances!
Victoria Alexander looking regal.
With one of my favorite Canadians, Lila DiPasqua!
So thrilled to meet Mary Balogh...
...and Linda Lael Miller.
And that's how I spent my birthday.
If you'd like to see the rest of my (many) photos from my Spokane getaway, I have them posted at my Facebook page as well as The Romance Dish's Facebook page.
For more information about the 2016 Historical Romance Retreat, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. News about the 2017 HRR will be announced in early January.
Do you enjoy stepping back in time though the pages of historical romance?
Would you attend a historical romance retreat with other readers and authors?
Which historical romance authors would you most like to meet?
How did you spend your birthday this year?
Four randomly chosen people who leave a comment on today's post will each receive one signed historical romance from my conference stash. (U.S. / Canada only) Deadline to be entered in giveaway is 11:00 PM, October 12, 2016.