Deleted Scenes: Unmasking the Duke

Since I’m the kind of writer who writes by the seat of my pants, I have to do a lot of editing, revising, rewriting. Sometimes that means I need to cut a scene, either because it takes the story off course, or it isn’t meaty enough, or it paints the character in a less than ideal light. Sometimes, I need to delete a scene to stay under a certain word count. For all of those reasons, but mostly to keep under the word count limit, I cut a scene from Unmasking the Duke. I thought it would be a fun scene to share.

In the original story, Hannah is trying to determine if she is truly in love the the duke, or if she is merely reacting to his kiss. Since she has never been kissed before, she has nothing upon which to base a comparison. So she calls in a servant, someone who saved her life in a previous story and who is young and handsome. She asks him to kiss her. It’s a scandelous and dangerous request but she’s desperate to prove that being kissed by anyone is amazing and earth shaking so she can discount her reaction to the duke’s kiss.

So, for your pleasure, a deleted scene from Unmasking the Duke:

Was it possible that every man’s kiss was as heavenly as Bennett’s? Perhaps all men’s kisses were as beautiful and moving. She might be confusing love with desire. But how to learn the difference? She certainly couldn’t ask Cole to kiss her, nor the Buchanan twins, and certainly to not Mr. Hill. As she thought of men of her acquaintance, a terrible, naughty, delicious thought struck her.

In an uncharacteristic act of daring—not to mention impropriety—she summoned Cole’s valet, Stephens.

He arrived, his handsome dark looks as striking as she’d remembered. “You wanted me, Miss?”

“Yes. Please close the door.”

He obeyed and waited for her to approach.

She pushed past the butterflies having a war in her midsection. “If I asked you to do something, would you do it?”

“Of course, Miss.”

She gathered her courage. “I need you to kiss me.”

He gave a start. “Miss?”

“I have only been kissed by one man, and I need to know if I’m so shaken by the man, or by the kiss. I need to know if all kisses are that…nice. So I need you to kiss me. If what Cole has implied is true, you are something of a ladies’ man, so you ought to be experienced enough to know how to do a proper job of it. And you’re certainly handsome. Did you know I actually had a crush on you for over a year?”

He glanced sideways as if afraid someone might be listening and took a step back. “Ahhh…”

“If your kiss makes me feel the way his does, then I can more easily put him from my mind.”

His mouth opened, but nothing came out. Finally, he shook his head as a slow grin curved his mouth. “I’m sorry but I can’t do that, Miss.”

She self-consciously touched her hair. “I’m not pretty enough.”

“Oh, Miss, you’re more than pretty enough. You’re one of the fairest girls I’ve ever seen.”

“Then it should be no hardship for you to kiss me.”

He choked. “No, Miss. I admit, I’ve wanted to kiss you a fair long time. Pretty girls have that effect on me. But if Lord Tarrington found out I’d touched you, he’d skin me with his bare hands.”

“He won’t find out. All the men are out for the afternoon hunt, and my sister thinks I’m lying down with a headache.”

He grinned but eyed her uncertainly. “Are you sure? Kissing is no trifling matter.”

“I’m afraid I won’t know the answer to my problem unless I kiss a man, and I daren’t kiss one of the guests, lest they get the wrong idea. Please? Will you help me?”

Stephens chuckled. “Putting like that, how can I refuse?”

He stepped in. All the butterflies in her stomach doubled their efforts. Not only was she behaving in a scandalous manner, this moment might reveal more than she wanted to know.

He put a finger under her chin, lifted it, leaned in, and kissed her. His lips were soft and warm and gentle, and he was clearly a skilled kisser. But none of the awareness raced over her body, none of the thrill tingled in her nerve endings, none of the joyful completeness settled in her heart as it had when Bennett kissed her.

Stephens kissed her thoroughly and then stepped back, eyeing her. “Well?”

“It was pleasant, and you obviously know what you are doing.”


“It wasn’t the same as his.”

Grinning, he shook his head “Well, I’m a little offended that I can’t make every girl swoon at my kiss, but it sounds to me like you have your answer. Is it what you’d hoped?”

“No. It means I have a problem.”

He nodded, his dark eyes solemn for a moment before they twinkled. “Well, any time you need a second go, I’m at your beck and call, Miss Palmer. I think I’d risk Tarrington’s temper for another taste of your sweet mouth.”

Carriage Accidents Cliche?

WLA_nyhistorical_Beekman_Family_Coachby Donna Hatch

Throughout most of history, travelling, especially long distance, was a dangerous undertaking. Some of the many dangers a traveler in Regency England faced included highwaymen attacks, most of which only resulted in loss of valuables but often injury and death as well. To offset this risk, the wealthy generally had armed outriders who rode horseback in front and behind the carriage to guard and protect them but not everyone could afford that and sometimes highway men attacked in alarming numbers.

Travelers also faced broken down carriages which caused delays and inconveniences and injuries, especially if their coach traveled at high speeds at the time of the malfunction. In addition, weather accounted for difficulty and danger. There are accounts of passengers riding on the top of a mail coach arriving frozen to death. But by far the most dangerous part of travel came from carriage accidents.

Now, don’t roll your eyes. I’ve heard readers complain that it’s too easy to kill off a character by arranging a convenient carriage accident so that they have become cliché. However, as cliché as it may seem, carriage accidents were every bit as common as car accidents are today. And since I’ve been in seven car accidents, either as a passenger or as a driver, ranging from minor fender benders to car-totaling collisions, and several people I love have suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of car accidents, I’m painfully aware how frequently that happens.

High_flyer_phaeton_carriage,_1816Just as there are many reasons for car accidents today, carriage accidents could be caused by any number of difficulties. Traveling at high speeds increased the likelihood of a major wipe out. (No, that’s not a Regency term J High-perched carriages such as the High-flyer phaeton were top heavy and easily overturned, especially in the hands of an unskilled driver. But carriages in general were subject to all kinds of problems and breakdowns. Maintenance was up to the coachman, but if he wasn’t especially diligent, there were any number of parts to a carriage that could break and cause accidents.

Roads were another cause of difficulty. They were poorly maintained, often muddy, rutted, narrow and windy. They were also snowy or icy. Toll roads usually fared better, but not always. Also, the horses themselves could throw a shoe or stumble over a rut or uneven ground which posed a threat to the carriage.

But other drivers were some of the greatest perils on the roads. There were no speed limits, and no driver’s licenses, and driving while intoxicated wasn’t policed. Drunk drivers or young dare devils careening around bends caused an alarming number of accidents. And since there were no seat belts or crash safety engineering, passengers could be thrown around or crushed or ejected.

It paints a terrifying picture, doesn’t it? The next time you read a book where the heroine’s parents died in a carriage accident, remember that they were an alarmingly common and therefore very realistic form of premature death. Instead of rolling your eyes and uttering the dreaded C word, nod sagely and applaud the author’s realism.




Autumn Masquerade Coming Soon

Autumn Masquerade ebookI am very pleased and honored to announce that I have joined award-winning Regency Romance authors Josi S. Kilpack and Nancy Campbell Allen in a new TIMELESS Anthology, The Regency Collection, entitled AUTUMN MASQUERADE.

This Regency anthology includes three 100 page romance novellas based around the theme Autumn Masquerade, presented by the publisher of the #1 Amazon bestselling “A Timeless Romance Anthology” series in New Releases for Clean Romance.

Each individual Regency story includes a sweet, unforgettable romance of overcoming obstacles to find and embrace true love and reach for happily ever after. These shorter novels are perfect for a quick afternoon pick me up. My novella, Unmasking the Duke, features Hannah, the younger sister of Alicia in The Stranger She Married. Hannah, as it happens, is much more than meets the eye, and the oh-so-dreamy Duke of Suttenberg soon discovers he has not only met his match, but has found the girl who can save him.

Josi and Nancy’s tales were absolutely wonderful and I wanted to immediately read them a second time. This delightful collection will be available October 1, but please pre-order yours now to ensure a fantastic opening day by clicking on this live link. 

A MERRY DANCE by Josi S. Kilpack. When Lila overhears her uncle talking about a man coming to look for property in the county, she doesn’t think twice, until her uncle says he hopes Lila will find enough interest to marry the man. How can she marry someone named Mortimer Luthford, not to mention that his advanced age of thirty-three, and especially since she’s already in love with her absent cousin Neville? But when Mortimer arrives, Lila has to try every trick known to women to act not interested in the rather fascinating man, which proves a very difficult façade to maintain.

UNMASKING THE DUKE by Donna Hatch. The last thing Hannah Palmer wants to do is flirt with men in a crowded ballroom, but when her sister throws a Masquerade Ball, Hannah can’t say no to the invitation and takes comfort behind a mask. She dances with a charming masked man, matching him wit for wit. When the glorious evening culminates in a kiss, and the two remove their masks, Hannah is horrified to discover the man she’s been flirting with all night is her most despised neighbor, the Duke of Suttenberg. No matter how charming the duke was at the ball, and how wonderful the kiss, he is the last man she’d ever accept.

WHAT’S IN A NAME by Nancy Campbell Allen. Penelope Timely has a terrible secret. She’s been writing letters to the Duke of Wilmington, pretending to be her ever-proper twin sister, Persephone. Now, the duke has written that he’ll be coming for the Autumn Masquerade Ball and Festival. Penelope will have to continue the charade while the duke is in town in order to protect her sister. The Duke of Wilmington isn’t fooled for a moment, but instead of confessing that he knows about the deception, he finds himself utterly charmed by Penelope and jumps into the game of deception to see how far the twin sisters will take it.

The collection is available on any ebook reader including Kindle. If sales are good, this collection will also become available in print in the future, so please tell a friend. (Or a 100) Pre-order your copy now for only $4.99 here.

For more on Regency Anthologies and Regency Collections, see Donna’s other historical romance collections



Dukes and Duchesses in Regency England


Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Next to the royal family, the most distinguished and highest ranking title in England is the Duke. They are usually in possession of great wealth and power, owning vast amounts of lands, tenants, and other properties. However, the title itself is fairly recent in England’s history.

Originally from the French word Duc, the duke was first used only as a title of power and responsibility for the sons of the king. Being a mere prince suggested he was something of a wastrel who had no responsibility or power. A duke, or royal duke, meant the king trusted this son to rule on a more local level and enjoyed a higher level independence.

During the Medieval, earls and barons owned and managed their land in a feudal system. They were knights who answered the call to aid the king in war. But unlike other mere knights, these lords had vast lands and responsibilities. They provided the land that the tenants or serfs farmed, and they collected rent. They offered (ideally) protection in times of need to the serfs who fled to safety of the castle walls when enemies attacked. Local sheriffs had the charge of keeping law and order but sometimes the ruling lord took on that duty as well.

During Medieval England, earls and barons were the highest ranking lords–behind the royal dukes, of course. Later the monarchy created other titles which included marquis (a word that by Regency had the odd pronunciation of mar-kwiss). The spelling of marquis eventually changed to marquess to sound more English but for many years, both spellings were considered correct. Marquess ranked just below duke and above earl. Another newly added title was that of viscount (vi-count) which ranked below earl and above baron.

According to Debrett’s, the first British subject to receive the rank of duke who was not a member of the royal family, nor one nearly related, was Sir William de la Pole, Marquess of Suffolk, who was made Duke of Suffolk in the fifteenth century. I am mystified as to why his name was Sir William, suggesting he bore the rank and title of knight (not to be confused with being a knight who wears armor and jousts), when he was, in fact, a marquess, a much higher rank. According to my research, he would have been called Lord William in that era which signified he was more than a mere knight. But I digress. Anyway, the title of duke was originally awarded only for exemplary loyalty and valor to the crown, so no more than 40 dukes ever existed, the last being created during Queen Victoria’s reign. The first time that happened under her rule was when the earl of Fife Married the eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales in 1889; the second when no male heir was born to that line, the title jumped to the male heir of Fife’s daughter—not a common practice.

When a peer failed to have a son, the practice of a title going to a female heir’s husband or son occurred anciently, but by the Regency, the title either went to the closest, eldest male relative, or it reverted to the crown. At that point, it either went extinct or (in theory but not usually in practice) the monarch had the power to bestow it upon someone else.

Therefore, the need for a male heir was of supreme importance. Many wives of peers, and even wives of untitled landowners, often gave their lives in the attempt to produce a son to guarantee continuation of the line and succession of a direct descendant. If you are familiar with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you will remember Mr. Bennett’s wife and daughters’ anxiety over the land and house all going to a distant cousin, and what that would mean to the family.

Princess Charlotte of Wales and_Duchess Caroline of Brunswick by Thomas Lawrence

Princess Charlotte of Wales and_Duchess Caroline of Brunswick by Thomas Lawrence

A duchess’s primary role was to bear at least one son, an “heir and a spare” as was the common phrase. In addition, she, at the top of the social ladder next to the royal family, had other demands. Just as we today idolize and follow celebrities, professional athletes, and the very rich and powerful who often find themselves in the news, the British adored and scrutinized the aristocracy and nobility, and even the gentry. Let’s face it, they were the beautiful people. They set the standards for dress and behavior and everyone wanted to emulate them. The Prince of Wales, the Regent who later became King George IV, was notorious for hedonistic ways which paved the way for the party lifestyle for his subjects, many of whom followed his lead. “Prinny’s” friend, Beau Brummell’ revolutionized men’s clothing as everyone hurried to adopt style of the prince’s favorite.

As a duchess is so high in rank, she, too, was constantly in the limelight either for good or ill, whether or not she wanted to be. A duchess, or any wife of a peer, was expected to throw lavish balls, dinner parties, house parties as well as support charitable organizations and sponsor musicians. And heaven help her if she wore the same gown in public or failed to have the best, most tasteful gowns, shoes, jewels, gloves, hats! Demands on her time, appearance, and favor probably led to a great deal of stress as she strove to uphold the ideal. The higher the rank, the higher the expectations, and the more subject she was to criticism from the bitter and jealous.

During that era, as today, public opinion delighted at faulting the very people the idolized. If a person of great importance slipped up, tabloids and social columns in the newspapers, as well as word-of-mouth gossips delighted in spreading the titillating news.

I can only imagine the pressure.

It is this standard of excellence, and all the burdens that go with it, that creates one of the stumbling blocks for my heroine to overcome in “Unmasking the Duke” part of Autumn Masquerade, the newest Timeless Romance Anthology, Regency Collection. This is one of three Regency romances included in this anthology.

Autumn Masquerade ebookHere are the first few pages from “Unmasking the Duke” in Autumn Masquerade:

Birthdays were overrated. People really ought to stop celebrating them after the age of sixteen. Snuggled into the featherbed of her sister’s country estate, Hannah Palmer toyed with a croissant. This evening she might very well die of humiliation. Or worse, embarrass her sister and brother-in-law, the Earl and Countess of Tarrington.

Alicia practically bounced into the room. “Happy birthday, Sis!”

Hannah smiled wryly. “I think you’re happier about it than I am.”

At odds with her rank as a countess, Alicia grinned and climbed into bed with Hannah, holding her tightly. “I am happy about it. How often does a girl get to wish her favorite sister happy eighteenth birthday?”

Hannah gave her a wry smile. “I’m so relieved to learn I’m your favorite, since I have no competition.”

Alicia laughed. “It would be sad if I claimed another for that auspicious honor.” She wound a strand of Hannah’s blond hair around her finger.

“You’re more energetic than usual today.”

“Little Nicholas actually slept all night long.” A maternal tenderness crept into Alicia’s expression as it always did when she spoke of her infant son.

When the time came—if it came—Hannah planned to keep her baby in her room, rather than follow the convention of letting a nursemaid care for her child during the night hours. She vowed to be the devoted, loving mother her sister had already proved to be. Of course, she might never realize the sweet dream of motherhood.

Alicia twisted around in bed and fixed her amber gaze on Hannah. “And I’m so happy that you’re finally letting me throw a ball in your honor.”

Hannah winced. “Yes, I just love big parties filled with rooms of people I don’t know.”

“I know how you feel about it, dearest,” Alicia said soothingly. “But this will be a good practice for you before you go to London next Season. When I’m finished with you, society will toast you as the New Incomparable.”

“I’ll be a clumsy, tongue-tied idiot, just like always.”

“You’re only clumsy when you’re nervous. More practice at social events will help you not be nervous.”

Not be nervous in public? Hardly likely.

Alicia tapped her on the nose. “You are a beautiful and accomplished daughter of a respected gentleman, and the sister of a countess. No need to fear.”

“I hear blonds aren’t fashionable at present.”

“The only ones who say blond hair isn’t in fashion are those who are jealous. Just keep your head high and smile as if you know an embarrassing secret about everyone.”

Hannah stared into the flames writhing in the hearth. “It’s not that simple.”

“It is that simple.” Alicia squeezed her. “If you say next to nothing, everyone will think you are mysterious and will be all the more fascinated with you. Besides, you’ll wear a mask tonight. Surely anonymity will lend you courage.”

“I hope you’re right.”

Spending the evening alone with Alicia and her charming husband, Cole, would be preferable to a room full of strangers. But perhaps Alicia was right; a costume mask might help Hannah find some courage buried deep inside.

Hannah put a large spoonful of lumpy brown sugar into her chocolate, followed by a dash of cream. While Alicia rhapsodized about the ball, Hannah stirred absently before wrapping her hands around the china to warm her fingers.

Alicia ended on a sigh. “Maybe you’ll meet him tonight.”

“Him?” Hannah sipped the chocolate and snuggled into her pillows to drink the hot liquid turned decadent by the addition of the sugar and cream. Why most people chose to drink chocolate in its bitter form remained a mystery.

“Him,” Alicia repeated. “The man of your dreams. Your future husband.”

Hannah said dryly enough to be impertinent had she been speaking to a lady of rank who was not her sister, “Yes, meeting him at a ball would be convenient. I am persuaded that one must have a bit of cliché in one’s life to obtain a measure of happiness.”

Preorder your copy of “Unmasking the Duke” included in Timeless Romance Anthology, Regency Collection AUTUMN MASQUERADE.

And yes, in case you are wondering, Hannah is younger sister of Alicia Palmer in The Stranger She Married. I thought she needed her own story, too.

My special thanks to Joyce Dipastena, author of sweet Medieval romances, for helping me with some of the early history of Dukes.

You can read more about dukes and duchesses at:


What are you doing still here? Go Pre-order the book! “Unmasking the Duke” is in Timeless Romance Anthology, Regency Collection AUTUMN MASQUERADE.

Travel and Moving During the Regency


BEekman Family coach, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Recently, my family and I relocated from Arizona’s Southwestern Desert to northern Washington. We loaded a moving truck filled with most of our worldly possessions, minus what we sold or gave away, our four younger children (our older two are married and didn’t come with us, unfortunately), and drove across Arizona, Utah, and Idaho to Washington. The entire trip took the better part of three days which seemed terribly long to us as our truck chug-chugged up the hills at about ten miles per hour. I felt like a pioneer of old, uprooting our family and taking a long journey to virtually the unknown in search of a better way of life. Yet, two hundred years ago, such a distance would have been a great deal longer, more difficult, and filled with danger.

During the early eighteen hundreds in England and America, people relied primarily upon horses and oxen to take them long distances. Not only did horses or oxen pulling a heavy load plod along slowly, the teams had to either be changed frequently or allowed to rest. Depending on the roads, or the lack thereof, and the cattle pulling the heavy wagons or horses pulling lighter carriages, and the road conditions and he weather, they could have traveled anywhere from four to eight miles per hour. If they traveled non-stop for eight hours, they covered between thirty to sixty miles a day. But they had to stop to change horses, especially if the load were heavy, and they had to stop for the passengers to eat and, um, make a rest stop. By that calculation, our trip would have taken between two and four months if we had made that trip by wagon. In addition, wagons had breakdowns, horses or oxen could become ill or injured, and travelers were subjected, largely unprotected, to all kinds of weather. Most roads were poorly maintained and were always either very dusty or muddy, which always resulted in the weary travelers arriving “in all their dirt” and craving a wash and a change of clothing.

Some travelers used ships or barges which certainly would have been smoother for the most part than traveling over bumpy, rutted roads. However, travel was limited to rivers and canals. The train had been invented, but was still an untrusted curiosity with very limited railroad system and didn’t, as a rule, appear to be used to carry people’s furniture and household items. So, travel by road in some kind of wagon or cart, pulled by animals was of necessity, the primary method of moving or traveling. It was bumpy, slow, and without air conditioning or heating.

When the aristocracy moved, servants did a great deal of the work, but I’m sure the process of what to take and what to leave was as challenging for them as it was for me. When a house is so laden with memories, it’s difficult to leave it behind. Objects, curios, and even furniture each evokes some kind of memory. I also left behind my two older children. I can’t imagine how I would have done that if I didn’t know if I’d ever see them again. Fortunately, we are only a two-hour flight apart, and they both have plans to visit us with their spouses. Still, it was hard to leave them and give up Sunday dinners and weekend visits.

Though our modern life with all its conveniences and demands have created different lifestyles for us than what our ancestors knew, and many of our customs are different, and our clothing certainly bears little resemblance to fashions of bygone eras, basic human nature really hasn’t changed. The more I research the Regency, the more that basic truth stands out to me. We all love our families, worry about the future, try to make the best of what we are dealt, occasionally do and say things we regret, and look for a better tomorrow. If we are single, we look for someone to love who will love us. If we are married, we work through our challenges and try to keep that spark alive. And we often make difficult choices that bring challenges and heartache in the hopes that it will all be worth it. After all, we are all still looking for our own happily ever after, aren’t we?

Writing “Sweet” Romance

Regency Lady in whiteOften when people ask me why I chose to write romance, it surprises me a little. I didn’t honestly choose to write romance, it sorta chose me. I never woke up one day and said, “The romance market is really successful over other genres, so that’s what I’m going to write.” It happened over time. My earliest attempts at writing were adventure and mystery. Later, I turned to science fiction. By my teens, I was  writing fantasy. As an adult, I finally wrote historical–with elements of adventure, mystery, and even a little fantasy. In all these earlier genres, progressively more and more romance sub plots crept into the stories.

My favorite books and movies are very character-driven, meaning the characters are interesting and well rounded, with a good balanced of strengths and weaknesses. These favorite tales have characters who get a satisfactory ending, triumphing over their challenges, and are better at the end of the story than at the beginning. And if there’s a little romance, I like that even better.

Writing romance evolved over time, as what I wrote tended to center around characters overcoming obstacles to succeed in their goals and find love in the process. Now my stories center on romance, how characters find each other and realize that they are better, stronger, happier people as a couple than they were alone, AND overcome obstacles to succeed in their goals. Those are the best endings, don’t you think?

People also often ask why I write “PG-rated” romance, also known as “sweet” or “clean” romance. That answer is very simple; that’s where my comfort zone is. I prefer to read and write stories that don’t go into the very private, intimate details of bedroom scenes. Many people, including my own agent, have encouraged me to write hotter romances, or even put in “just one little sex scene” because, as we all know, “sex sells.” That may be true. I might sell more books and make more money, but that would feel as though I am selling out. I need to be true to myself, and that means writing romances that feel realistic, have plenty of chemistry, and even a few detailed kissing scenes. But anything beyond that either does not occur in the course of the novel, or it happens behind closed doors.

And I think Jane Austen would approve, don’t you?

What kinds of books do you love to read?

Leave a comment and I’ll put you in a drawing to win this cool, magnetized book button that marks the exact line where you left off. It’s the best book mark ever! (next to one with my cover on it, that is :-)


Regency House Parties

by Donna Hatch

Cover art for The Guise of a Gentleman--smallA time-honored English tradition, dating back hundreds of years, is the House Party. In England, house parties served multiple purposes: the gathering of friends; an informal setting in which to discuss politics and possibly sway a member of Parliament; showing off one’s wealth to friends or anyone else the host is trying to impress; and it also could provide a last-ditch effort to help a young lady secure a marriage proposal if her Season had failed to produce such a coveted event—a hostess could easily bring the hopeful young lady in contact with the gentleman of choice and provide a variety of activities to show her best side.

House parties most often occurred during the Season, while Parliament was in recess, and were especially popular the autum months of August and September because they coincided with hunting and shooting season. House parties usually lasted three to four days, from Thursday or Friday until Monday, including what is now known as the weekend. Part of the reason for the long stay lay in the difficulty of travel over dangerous and poorly-maintained roads.

Longleat House

Longleat House

Country estates were the perfect way to highlight the host’s wealth. Often a long and meandering driveway took guests through beautifully landscaped acres of land to the main house. There an impressing outer stairway led to an imposing great hall. Everyone in attendance viewed art, furniture and other luxuries, such as carriages, a stable full of impressive horses, and lawn tennis courts. A house party cost a great deal of money due in part to the lavish meals provided to guests. Expensive imported alcohol and lavish desserts were served, and the best glasses, china, and silver were used, or purchased, for such an event. Hosts often outfitted their servants with new, expensive livery and sometimes hired additional servants to accommodate the strain of so many guests. Female guests usually brought their ladies’ maids, and some gentlemen brought their valets. If so, these servants had to be fed and given accommodations. If not, the host and hostesses’ house maids and footmen filled these roles. Families often ate and lived very modestly for months after a house party to make up for the cost. Others simply incurred enormous debt they had no hope of paying.

Guests during the Regency enjoyed a simple buffet breakfast whenever they arrived in the dining room which included eggs, fruits, toast, ham, pastries and jam. They drank tea, coffee, chocolate (which was hot and bitter like coffee). Men might also drink beer or a cherry brandy were the drink of choice. Some hostess served luncheon but this was a new tradition during the Regency. Some old-fashioned folk held to breakfast, dinner and supper. Luncheons could be informal meals in the dining room or picnics al Fresca, or they could be as formal as dinner. Afternoon tea always appeared, of course, and dinner was always formal, requiring a change into formal wear. Of course, for the ladies, every activity or meal seemed to have its own dress code and often a chair of hairstyle as well.

Wolf and Fox Hunt by Rubens

Wolf and Fox Hunt by Rubens

Activities at a house party during the day usually involved the men hunting or shooting (depending on the season), the fox hunt, and billiards.  Alas, the ladies usually got stuck inside much of the day visiting, writing letters, and other tame activities. Sometimes, they went outside for walks or carriage rides, or they watched the men plays sports and even joined in on croquet, lawn tennis, and lawn bowling.  Indoor games that involved both sexes included word games, charades, musicales, dances and card games. Baccarat gained popularity because the Prince of Wales loved this card game, which was illegal. “Prinny” reportedly provided his own set of counters so he’d be prepared for an on-the-spot game. Eventually bridge took Baccarat’s place in popularity.

After dinner, the ladies left the men and retired to the drawing room, leaving the gentleman to drink port, smoke cheroots, and discuss manly topics such as horses and politics. Later, the gentlemen joined the ladies for cards or music or dancing or games. April 1816 Ball

The house party, like most events, evolved over time. However, its purpose and popularity lasted for generations.


Years of researching Regency customs inspired the bulk of this post, however, I also drew from:

Evangeline Holland / Posted in SeasonSociety

Further Reading:
The Country House Party by Phyllida Barstow
The Marlborough House Set by Anita Leslie
Society in the Country House by Thomas Hay Sweet Escott
Manners and Rules of Good Society by A Member of the Aristocracy
Etiquette of Good Society by Lady Colin Campbell
“A Country House Party” by Lord Byron in A Satire Anthology by Carolyn Wells

Book Tour for “Pemberly, Pompous Schemes” by Ayr Bray

Today I’m highlighting a book inspired by the world of Jane Austen, “Pemberly, Pompous Schemes” by Ayr Bray, becuase I never get enough of Austen’s Regency World.

pompous schemes

Thrown from his horse, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam is left to traverse the remaining fifteen miles to Pemberley on foot. Richard never imagined the first carriage to cross his path would contain the one woman he thought he would never see again.

Lady Aimée de Bourbon the only child of Prince du Sang Geoffroy de Bourbon, Marquis of Agen had captured and nearly broke Richard’s heart four years earlier. He had loved her and planned to give up his bachelor ways, but her father intended her to marry a royal, not an English Earl’s second son. Now Lady Aimée is affianced to Señor Duarte de Cortázar, a lesser Portuguese royal.

While lost in his thoughts of his prior love, the carriage is robbed, Lady Aimée’s dowry stolen, and Lord Agen is injured. Colonel Fitzwilliam directs the driver to take them to Pemberley where Mr. Darcy and his wife Elizabeth take them in and offer refuge and a place to heal.

Ancient customs of Dom Duarte’s family forbids marriage without the dowry present at the wedding and now with the dowry stolen, Lady Aimée and her father fear the de Cortázar’s will call off the marriage. But Lady Aimée intends to have love and will let nothing stand in her way, even if it means hurting the man she once professed to love.

Here is a list of the character casting, if this book were made into a movie:

Character Casting:

My character list is based on looks alone and I only included my main characters.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Richard Armitage

Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy: Nina Dobrev

Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam: Chris Pine

Lady Aimée de Bourbon: Chloe Grace

Moretz Prince du Sang Geoffroy de Bourbon, Marquis of Agen: Pierce Bronson

Dom Duarte de Cortázar, Grand Duke of Pombal: David Gandy


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“From an early age I have always been fascinated by the written word and the mood and atmosphere it creates for a reader; especially those books that affect me and transport me to some far-off place. These are the elements I strive to create in my books. My books in many ways record what most affects me: my feelings and experiences with family, friends, and those I have run into on my life’s journey. My hope is that in my books you will find something that touches you, something which will resonate in your soul and remind you that you are strong and can overcome anything, especially if you have the support of loving friends and family.” – Ayr Bray 


Ayr Bray is from the Pacific Northwest, but travels as much as possible so she doesn’t have to deal with the cold. Ayr loves to hear from readers.

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English Gentlemen’s Clubs

Dear Gentle Reader,

Since I’m on deadline, I hope you forgive me for not coming up with new content for the next little while and that you will enjoy this reposting on Gentleman’s Clubs. I did, however, make an addition to this post based on new information I found:

Every respectable Regency gentleman (and a few who weren’t exactly respectable) belonged to a gentleman’s club which were nothing at all like places in modern-day America referr to as Gentleman’s Clubs. Some of the more popular Englush Gentleman’s Clubs were White’s, Brooks’s, (yes that is the correct spelling and punctuation) and Boodle’s. All were very exclusive.

When a member was accepted into the club, it was known as an “election.” If a gentlemen had been a member for 3 years, others would say “three years after his election into so and so.” All exclusive gentlemen’s clubs in London used a method of voting for proposed new members whereby a system of back and white balls were deposited, in secret by each election committee member, into a special box. A single black ball was sufficient to deny membership, hence the term “blackballed.”

By far the most revered (and oldest) of London’s gentlemen’s clubs during the Regency Era was White’s. It was founded as a chocolate shop in 1693 by an Italian, Francesco Bianco, who’d changed his name to Francis White. White’s was basically conservative, which means mostly Tory membership. Even today it’s still considered the most prestigious club. Originally, White’s was mostly a gambling hub, with members who frequently played high-stakes card games. Whist, faro, quinze and hazard were some of the most popular games played. With all the clubs, obsessive betting occurred with some frequency. The smallest difference of opinion invariably resulted in a wager and was duly recorded in a book.

Brooks’s was basically liberal, which means a large Whig membership. For a while the Prince of Wales favoured it. He changed his preference to White’s when Brooks’s blackballed his close friend, Jack Payne. As a gaming club in the eighteenth century, which is just before the Regency Era, it had been in Pall Mall where the stakes had been high.  Gamblers played for 50 to 10,000 pounds on the table! Charles Fox and his brothers reportedly lost many thousands of pounds in a single night. Hazard was their customary game of choice.

With Boodle’s, I’ve seen so many different characterizations of this one that it’s hard to say, but it seems to have offered deeper gaming than the aforementioned two clubs. Some sources say Boodles was the club for country squires and those who ‘rode to hounds’ in the fox hunts. It wasn’t tied to any political party, at least not during the Regency Era.

Crockford's Club House St. James's StreetCrockford’s Club on St.James’s Place recently came to my attention thanks to Two Nerdy History Girls. The owner, Mr. Crockford, ran his club more like today’s casinos. This club had the unique angle of having the members play against the club “players” or officials, meaning employees of the club, rather than against each other. French hazard was the game of choice and I’m sure Mr. Crockford turned a tidy sum. Reportedly, the food and wine were outstanding and membership every bit as exclusive as the other clubs which, of course, made it desirable.

Another club was Watier’s which was a short-lived club started by the Prince of Wales’s (or Prinny’s) chef that specialized in fine food and very deep gaming.

There were many, many more clubs, but the above were the clubs with space in St. James’s Street and thus at the core of society. There was the Beaf-steak (or Beefsteak) club, which had precisely thirty members and met once a week for a fine dinner; their building was open to members for the usual purposes such as conversing with friends, reading the latest papers, gaming, etc. The Athenium Club focused on ancient Rome and Greece; I heard that only Latin was spoken there which wouldn’t have been a problem for too many Regency gentlemen, since Latin was taught in every school.

There were private gaming ‘hells,’ which, since gaming was restricted to members and guests, qualify as clubs.  Many clubs had bedrooms that members could use as a sort of hotel during a quick trip to town.

My favorite was also the Four-Horse Club, also called the Four-in-Hand Club which, though originally a wild club of young men, had, by the early 1800s, become a respectable club for superb drivers. Great fodder for heroes, isn’t it? It was a small group with only somewhere between 30-40 members at its peak. They didn’t meet in any specific place. It began to fade around 1815 and disbanded in 1820, was briefly revived in 1822 but finally ended. The members met at set intervals to drive coaches-and-four out to Chalk Hill and back. Hard-core Corinthians supposedly exercised with a very specific uniform, but they didn’t have a clubhouse where they met. The rest of the time Corinthians used Jackson’s Salon or Manton’s as their daytime hangout and might spend an evening in Cribb’s Parlor, but all of these places were open to anyone so they hardly qualify as clubs. I have always heard that the Corinthians hung out at the gambling hells more than at the clubs.

There was also the Alfred Club at 23 Albermarle Street. It began in 1808 and attracted writers and other men of letters. The infamous Lord Byron was romored to be a member. It was a great success, and in 1855 it joined with the Oriental Club which was established in 1824 (just after the Regency Era) as a club for men who’d been “out East” in India and other areas.

So, to which club does your Regency Hero belong?

Authors United Against Child Slavery

Where authors unite to raise funds for Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), a nonprofit that organizes undercover operations to free many of the 2 million children being trafficked as sex slaves around the world.

Participating authors are donating their books in exchange for donations

  • Donate $20 to receive a free book from a participating author (book prizes selected at random).
  • Donors of $40 or more will receive two free books, a series, or a bundle (selected at random as well). 
Nearly 200 books have been donated by generous authors to help raise funds for this great cause–see the list of participating authors/books below!

Give freedom, get a book

I’m donating all three ebooks in my Rogue Hearts Series to help this cause.


Donate directly to O.U.R. through the Authors United Against Child Slavery Campaign

Authors and book bloggers who wish to help, please fill out this online form

Participating Authors/Books

I’m donating the ebooks of my Regency Historical Romance Series–The Stranger She Married, The Guise of a Gentleman, A Perfect Secret.

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Here are the other authors particpating in this worthwhile fundraiser.