by Sarah Ballance
If you thought you had to get your crazy on to land in a place like Ruby Hill, you’d better think again. The following list of reasons folks were locked up for “treatment” between 1864 and 1889 at the RUBY HILL-esque yet very real Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum is absolutely true. (My commentary, however, may be prone to exaggeration.)
1. Bad Whiskey – I don’t know if this guy drank bad whiskey, sold bad whiskey, or manufactured bad whiskey, but you’ve got to feel for anyone forced to sober up a lunatic asylum. I’m pretty sure that type of residence is exactly where I’d most need whiskey, bad or otherwise.
2. Drospy – I admit I had to look this one up. It’s the old word for edema, which is what happens when you carry excess fluid. Basically this means if you’ve ever taken off your socks to find they’ve left dents in your legs, you could have been committed. Now THAT is lunacy.
3. Fighting Fire – Not setting them, but them. Apparently firefighting in the 1800s wasn’t always considered the heroic profession we know it as today. And someone at the admissions desk is a pyromaniac.
4. Menstrual Deranged – What does that mean, exactly? Aside the menstrual part – we get that. Monthly, even. But ? We probably don’t want to know, but what do you want to bet a man came up with that one?
5. Masturbation for 30 Years – Erm, okay. But why THIS GUY and not EVERY OTHER GUY ON THE PLANET? I’m just sayin’….
6. Suppressed Masturbation – So what we’ve just learned is there is clearly a target zone for this particular activity—somewhere between once and 30 years’ worth. Good luck with that, boys.
7. Ill Treatment by Husband – Okay, so he’s a jerk so they lock HER up? I bet a man thought of that one, too. (I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for my fabulous husband, who—in over 16 years of marriage—has not once sent me to an asylum.)
8. Seduction and Disappointment – I’m not sure who was seduced in this scenario and who was disappointed, but apparently this was not the time to oversell oneself. (No wonder that one guy just stuck to masturbation for 30 years.)
9. Scarlatina (Scarlet Fever) – You there, with the contagious disease. Into the criminally over-crowded asylum. Yep, that’ll fix you.
10. Medicine to Prevent Conception – To be fair, all forms of contraception were made illegal in the United States in 1873, so this was at least technically a crime. By the 1880s, though, there was a handy-dandy sausage casing device (yes, that would be animal intestine) alternative. Might have been worth a shot because…
11. Dissipation of Nerves – There’s nothing to indicate the dissipation of nerves was in any way related to conception rates, but my husband and I have six children (one of whom was conceived after I was surgically sterilized) and I’m telling you, asylum people. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. It a classic inverse proportion, and if you don’t believe me just ask all those people who see me with six kids and immediately assume I’m crazy. But I digress.
12. Carbonic Acid Gas – I’m not sure of the particulars here, but just so y’all know, this is a byproduct of breathing. BREATHING WAS A CRIME.
13. Novel Reading – ERMAGERD, YOU GUYS. First we can’t breathe, and now they take away our novels! But fear not, for RUBY HILL is not a novel, but a . Which can only mean READING WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF AN INSANE ASYLUM!
Okay, so my logic might be a bit flawed, LOL, but I’m going to distract you quickly so you won’t notice. :-) Here’s a related little historical twist that blew my mind. In September, Entangled Scandalous released my historical romance, HER WICKED SIN, which is set during the Salem Witch Trials. Back then, the Salem in question was actually Salem Village, which has since been renamed Danvers. Danvers is home to the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum (reportedly one of the most haunted places in the world, and they turned it into APARTMENTS, y’all!), which sits on Hawthorne Hill, the very site of the gallows where the Salem witches were hanged. Nice little coincidence, right? But it gets better. Back in 2011—long before I’d given any thought to writing about the Salem Witch Trials or a haunted lunatic asylum—I had out there a little novella about a haunted house. Its name? HAWTHORNE.
Now that you’ve been properly wooed (), are you ready to dive into the dust, abandonment, terror—and yes, —of an abandoned mental institution? (Come on—you’ve to see how the romance fits in there, right?) If so, I hope you’ll consider a dark, dangerous trek (or, you know, just click over) to your favorite e-tailer for the scoop on RUBY HILL!
From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.
Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.
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Visions of the crime scene photos made an unwelcome reappearance in his mind’s eye. Young women—beautiful young women. Death hadn’t changed that. “In both cases, heart stopped. Sudden cardiac arrest. No known cause. No family history. No leads.”
She nodded, unimpressed. But then again, she subscribed to the boogieman camp. “So a ghost did it.”
He expected her to claim victory with that sentiment, but instead her words harbored bitter undertones. The shift threw him off balance. The whole damn place had that effect on him. The air felt as if it bred illness rather than oxygen—darkness gathering like rain clouds, too fat with their wares to find the sky.
He’d choke on the toxicity.
Is that what Cash had done?
Though the air boiled, inexplicable cold sluiced Corbin’s spine. He glanced toward a window. Dusty and broken, it had a morbid effect on the sunshine attempting to filter through from outside, where the world lazed deep orange. The thought of darkness on the other side made him shudder. When he turned to shut the front door, he realized the darkness on the inside was far worse.
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“Dark and mysterious with just a touch of romance.” – Readheaded Bookworm viaGoodreads
“Ballance gives us lovely, spooky writing – the kind where the sentences feel good in your mouth while they send shivers down your spine … Ballance does a pitch perfect job of crafting a horror story in Ruby Hill. ” – Tori MacAllister
“Ruby Hill is a truly chilling account of ghost hunting at an asylum after dark.” –Sapphyria’s Book Reviews
“Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance was deliciously creepy. I loved every spooky minute of it.” - Becky on Books … and Quilts
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About Sarah Ballance:
Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.
She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found at http://sarahballance.com