Ewww Leeches!

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Highlighting Petie McCarty’s research into Regency medicine and the use of (shudder) leeches.

Coming from a scientific background and career, I’m no stranger to research so I eagerly dove into research for weeks for each of my novels before the first draft ever started, checking everything from habitat and indigenous species to climatic conditions of the location chosen for the story. The level of research doubled with Duke du Jour as I immersed myself in the whole Regency era. What shocked the stuffing out of me was the background work I did for the humorous scene where my hero suffers a leech application after he faints upon learning he has time-traveled to the year 1816.

800px-Haemopis_sp_Danube-public-domain-from-Wikimedia-Commons-300x225 Author's Blog Highlighting History Historical Romance Now I’m quite familiar with leeches since my former life as an aquatic biologist involved collecting aquatic invertebrates in lakes and streams for water-quality-monitoring projects, and we always picked up some freshwater leeches in the samples. I knew bloodletting practices dated back to biblical times and persisted into the Regency era because it was relative cheap, and any economic class could afford it. Some doctors used syringes or lancets to bleed patients, while many preferred leeches—some using fifty at a time. Unfortunately, the doctors would bleed patients till they fainted, or swooned, believing disease resulted from an excess buildup of blood. The practice became so prolific that by the 1830s, leeches had to be imported to England. France used tens of millions of leeches a year.

These invertebrates belong to the Class Hirudinea, and most live in freshwater. Regency leech collectors would wade into marshes and lakes and allow the leeches to stick to their legs. The invertebrates possess an anterior and a posterior sucker—as well as male and female reproductive parts, but that’s fodder for another story—the anterior sucker armed with teeth, and the posterior for locomotion and stabilization. The saliva in the anterior sucker bite produces an antiesthetic so the bite is pain free, plus the saliva also comes with vasodilators to expand constricted blood vessels, anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing, and another component to dissolve blood clots. Very proficient blood-sample collectors.

leech-1055447_1920-listed-on-Outdoor-Revival-as-public-domain-250x300 Author's Blog Highlighting History Historical Romance What I didn’t know and surprised the heck out of me is that medical leeches are making a comeback in our century after doctors ceased using them in the late 1800s. Turns out these productive little invertebrates can be crucial to the reattachment of body parts like fingers, toes, etc. acting like an artificial vein. Surgeons can easily hook the arteries back up as they are thicker and tougher while veins tend to be fragile and often collapse. When veins collapse or become congested after reconstructive surgeries, new capillaries cannot form to connect to existing veins, thus blood builds up in the appendage causing the finger or toe to swell up and turn blue. Arteries will then plug, and tissue can die.

Leeches applied by surgeons to the affected area drain the blood at a perfect speed and their anticoagulants keep the blood from clotting. These helpful invertebrates keep fresh blood flowing in and keep tissue healthy until new veins can form. Let’s hear it for the sucker boys!

Thank you, Caroline, for allowing me to spend time with your loyal readers today and to share my new release, Duke du Jour—a light-hearted time-travel Regency romance, sort of a reverse Kate-and-Leopold.

DukeduJour-500-X-750-200x300 Author's Blog Highlighting History Historical Romance About the Book

Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor—the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.

Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo—only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.

Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain—before Seven shows up—so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.

Buy it here


“Do you remember me?” Ariana asked quickly before she lost her nerve.

Jared’s expression grew chagrined, and her stomach plummeted. She had hoped, for but a moment. In the next instant, she received the greatest shock of all.

He stepped so close only inches separated them. “But I wanted to remember you,” he said softly. “I wanted to know you right away—the moment I laid eyes on you.”

Her lips parted in surprise. With no prior memory, he had finally noticed her as a woman?

He stared into her eyes. “I feel drawn to you…Ari.”

His voice turned low and husky when he breathed her name, and the sound drifted over her like a lover’s caress. His pupils dark as night, he slowly leaned in. His lips nuzzled hers, softly at first and then with more pressure. His hand cradled her cheek, and her skin tingled with the heat of his touch.

Ari fought the initial urge to flinch at the touch of his lips, so startled was she, and he swept a muscular arm around her back to hold her steady—or bind her in place. She was not sure which, and she didn’t really care. And if she was completely truthful with herself, she had wanted this for a very long time.

Having had but one prior kiss in her life—and that a quick peck on the lips stolen by Baron Dalton, and only a peck, because she had jerked back in shock—Ari was unprepared for the riot of emotions flooding through her. Joy, anticipation, shock, and yes, hunger for something instinctive and quite beyond her reach.

As his lips pressed more firmly to hers, Jared tilted his head and slipped the tip of his tongue gently across her lower lip. The sensual shock made her gasp, and his tongue slid further into her mouth to press and tease against hers. She started to pull back, and Jared’s large hand swept up her back and threaded into her hair. He gently tilted her head back, enabling him to deepen the kiss, and his tongue began a gentle game of tag with hers that left her light-headed enough she reached up to grab his shoulders for support. This changed the tempo immediately, and Jared’s strong arms pulled her tight to his chest. Evidently, he did not want the kiss to end any more than she did, and she smiled against his lips.

Her insides had warmed enough to melt butter, and her arms and legs felt fluid enough to pool in a puddle at his feet. This man looked like the rake Jared, but he was not. She should pull free, but she could not bring herself to try. This Jared was tender and gentle and—when the game of tongue tag turned into a heated waltz—hungry. She had seen the rake Jared kiss a maid once out in the garden at a country dance, and he had not been gentle, more like a boulder rolling downhill, though the maid had not seemed to mind.

Ari heard someone call out a warning and vaguely wondered if it was a human or merely the suspicious voice in her head. If the voice was human, she should worry the two of them would be discovered kissing, which could damage her reputation. In London, she would be quite ruined if caught in a situation such as this, but in the relaxed country society around Dolan, this would merely rate a few gossip sessions about her, and she would be considered a bit fast. Worse still, she could not dredge up the slightest concern over either possibility. All she knew was that she did not want her first real kiss to end. What did that say about her? Was she truly a bit fast?

The warning shout came again and seemed closer, way more than a foggy ghost voice in her mind. The shout was swiftly followed by a definite rumble that she felt all the way to her toes.

Jared noticed immediately, and his head came up despite her whimper of complaint. Without warning, he jerked her off her feet and tossed her into the air.

Petie-Bio-pic-225x300 Author's Blog Highlighting History Historical Romance About the Author

Petie McCarty spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time-travel series, Lords in Time, and her cozy-mystery-with-elements-of-romantic-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances.

Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.

Visit Petie’s web site online at http://www.petiemccarty.com or connect with her here:


One thought on “Ewww Leeches!

  1. I’ve been reading a bit lately about the reintroduction of old medical practices, like leeches and maggots to clean wounds, but I didn’t know why leeches were so helpful. That was really interesting and the book sounds fascinating!

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Contact Info

Caroline Warfield, Author

Email : info@carolinewarfield.com