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


Pompous Schemes Paperback and eBook Links:








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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.

Connect with her at her website or on Facebook at  and Twitter:


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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.

photo for authors against child slavery

Here are the other authors particpating in this worthwhile fundraiser.


























History of the British Flag

Union Jack

Union Jack

Today, the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is referred to as the “Union Jack” or “Union Flag.”

The Union Jack as we know it today was born from the union of Ireland and Great Britain in 1801.  However, before 1603, the British flag was very different than today’s flag. England, Ireland, and Scotland were different countries, each having their own individual flags. England’s flag honored the patron saint of England, St. George with his emblem of a red cross on a white field and had been the official flag of England since the Medieval times.

Flag of England

Flag of England

King James’ flag did not become official until the reign of Queen Anne, when England and Scotland united their parliaments to give birth to the new nation of Great Britain.

Flag of Scotland

Flag of Scotland

In 1707, Queen Anne officially adopted King James I’s flag as the national flag. This new combined flag was used for 101 years.That changed when Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was unmarried and had no children, named, on her deathbed, that her cousin, King James VI of Scotland, succeed her. So King James ruled both nations. In Scotland, he was King James VI. In England, he was King James I. At that time, King James called his two countries the “Kingdom of Great Britaine.” To further show his desire that the countries be considered one, King James made a proclamation in 1606 that his countries’ flags, the red cross of Saint George, who was the patron saint of England, and the Saltire of Saint Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, be combined to reveal the joining of two countries. (Wales was not represented in the Union Flag by Wales’s patron saint, Saint David, because at that time, Wales was part of the Kingdom of England.

Flag of Ireland

Flag of Ireland

However, changes did not stop there. In 1800, Ireland became part of Great Britain in the Act of Union with Ireland, passed by both the Irish and British parliaments despite much opposition. It was signed by George III in August 1800 to become effective on 1 January 1801.

In 1801, the Union Flag was redesigned to include the Cross of St. Patrick (which has a red, diagonal crosss), the patron saint of Ireland. It is in this form that the British flag exists today.

There is some disagreement as to the origin of the the term ‘Union Jack.’ One source cites it evolving from the ‘jack-et’ of the English or Scottish soldiers. Another alternative is that it’s a shortening of Jacobus, the Latin version of “James.” It may also have been derived from the term  ‘Jack’ which once meant small as evidence by the nickname “Jack” which once meant “little John” or “John Jr”–a proclamation by Charles II required that the Union Flag be flown only by ships of the Royal Navy as a “jack,” which is a small flag at flown at the bowsprit. So really, it’s anyone’s guess.

If you are a Brit, you probably learned about the creation of the modern-day British Flag in school. But as an American history geek who loves  all things British, I find this history fascinating, and I hope you do, too.

BTW, I found a great figure of the four flags superimposed upon one another on Enchanted Learning:


Giveaway, The Guise of a Gentleman

theguiseofagentlemanSince I have a new cover for my Regency romance, The Guise of a Gentleman, book 2 of the Rogue Hearts Series, the original version (pictured to the left) has been discontinued and is no longer available. However, I have some paperback copies on hand with this original cover, and I don’t want to sell them at book signings, because, well, it’s the old cover.

So, what’s an author with extra paperback copies to do? Give them away!

If you’d like a free paperback copy of The Guise of a Gentleman, just enter the Rafflecopter below with your name and email address so I can notify you if I draw your name. Never entered Rafflecopter? Don’t worry; it’s super easy.

I have 5 copies to give away, so your odds of winning are excellent.

Here is the back cover blurb:

The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.

A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared must complete one last assignment from the Secret Service before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is TheGuiseofaGentleman_432revealed.

And, just in case you’re curious, here is a picture of the new cover to the right :)

Sooo…for the giveaway, enter this Rafflecopter:

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Chocolate, an age-old love

Since I’m up to my eyeballs with planning details for my daughter’s wedding next month, I’m re-posting a popular post on chocolate from a few years ago. I hope you enjoy it (again).

I am a total chocolate fan. Well, perhaps I should say, I have a sweet tooth that demands something creamy and decadent. I’m not really a chocolate connoisseur, and I prefer milk chocolate to dark, which apparently, proves I’m don’t have a sophisticated pallet. Whatever. If it’s sweet and creamy and sinful, I love it.

This made me wonder; what was candy, and more specifically, chocolate, like in Regency England? Or were my poor heroines in my Regency romance novels all doomed to life without chocolate?

People of Regency England had quite a variety, actually. These were not the chocolate drops such as we can buy today and were not like a box of Russell Stover or Godiva chocolates. But there WERE candies, among them, chocolate. In Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to1789, culinary historian Barbara Ketcham Wheaton cites a respected 1750 cookbook that specialized in desserts:

“There are also some chocolate candies: the still familiar diablotins — flat disks of bitter chocolate, thickly sprinkled with nonpareils, chocolate “olives” (which we call chocolate truffles), and a conserve of chocolate, which turns out to be very like fudge.”

There were also ices much like our Italian Ice, ice creams, and custards flavored with chocolate, though of course Wheaton adds that “dipped chocolates… were not invented until the nineteenth century.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t any chocolate recipes included in the two dozen or so Wheaton reprints. Although this is a book about France and not England, many French chefs employed by aristocrats decamped for England after the revolution, so it makes sense to use it as a resource for writing Regency Romance Novels.

“In 1657 the first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman. The shop was called the The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll. They served what would look to us like hot chocolate. Costing 10 to 15 shillings per pound, chocolate was considered a beverage for the elite class. 1674 – Eating solid chocolate was introduced in the form of chocolate rolls and cakes, served in chocolate emporiums. (So they were what we refer to as candies, although they did not refer to them as such, but rather “rolls” from my understanding)

1730 – Cocoa beans drop in price making it within the financial reach of those other than the very wealthy.

The French were known for always being savvy in their cooking and were invited into British society before the French Revolution. In 1657 the first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman. The Brits were reputedly horrible cooks and even today, most culinary schools are extensions from French culinary cuisine. When the Brits did roasts during medieval times, the French already had fine cuisine. The French like to think they were born with it.

Chocolate houses preceded the coffee and tea houses, and many people drank chocolate hot. In fact, many researchers say that up to the through the Regency period, chocolate was a drink and that it was not much used in cooking and not eaten by hand. However, I have also discovered that since we have more access to more records and period papers, many old “facts” have been exploded. I think a large part the information about chocolate is in need of a footnote. I have only tasted modern block baking chocolate and not 18th century chocolate but I don’t imagine plain chocolate was any sweeter then than now.

We are still discovering their food habits as documents, diaries, and so forth, are still being discovered. As far as chocolate not being sweetened since its induction, the Spanish started adding cane sugar and flavorings such as vanilla and spices to cocoa beverages which caught on across Europe at the very beginning of the 1600’s. So early cooks realized the potential of chocolate with sweet. And I’m certain people experimented on their own, which of course unless it was recorded no one would know about. The problem with a lot of recipes back then is that most of them had ingredients but lacked amounts, as it was assumed how much was needed/used. Which makes it difficult to replicate, obviously.

Chocolate had to be sweetened and they did find ways to sweeten it, (honey is eons old, after all,) even though supposedly it was more bitter than we would like. Sugar was also sold in bulk and was not as refined as it is today. Chocolate as we know it today had to await further refinements of sugar and chocolate as well as stabilizers or emulsifiers and that this later development is the time from which most historians date eating chocolate. I like my chocolate pretty sweet which is why I like milk over dark. There are those that prefer it very dark and hardly sweet at all.

Drinking chocolate was probably similar to drinking coffee. Some people prefer black coffee; others like theirs fairly sweet with cream. It always amazes me that anyone would like chocolate without sweetener, but they did, and some even said they could not drink it any other way. Maybe the caffeine in chocolate gave a rush people craved just as they get from coffee.

Without a doubt chocolate is indeed an art. Refined sugar is key, cocoa butter is key and temperature is key.  The temperature of your own fingers and body affected rolling, molding and shaping. Trial and error was the name of the game back then, even more than today. Perhaps England’s damper and colder climate affected the candy. When one considers all that had to be done to the chocolate and the quality of the sugar, it’s a wonder they made chocolate anything.

In my Regency romance novels, I often show my heroines drinking chocolate, and sometimes mention that they like to sweeten it. It’s what I’d do, so I have them share my opinion on chocolate.

So the next time you enjoy fine chocolate, spare a thought for the science, and art, that goes into its creation.

Writer’s Conference for writers of ALL levels

Final Week to Register for the  2015 ANWA Time Out for Writers Conference

February 19-21, 2015 in Mesa, AZ at the Phoenix/Mesa Hilton


Keynote Speakers:

#1 New York Times bestselling author BRANDON MULL

and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner REGINA SIROIS!

Agents and Editors:

John Rudolph with Dystel & Goderich Literary
Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg with D4EO Literary Agency
Lisa Mangum with Shadow Mountain Publishing
McKenna Gardner with Xchyler Publishing
Heather Moore with Precision Editing Group

Thursday evening Query/Critique Camp taught by Lisa Mangum


Brandon Mull, Regina Sirois, Sarah M. Eden, Lisa Mangum, Angela Morrison, Betty Webb, Dr. Christina G. Hibbert, Heather Moore, Dave Eaton, Janette Rallison, John Rudolph, John Wincek, Josh Oram, Julie Wright, Kelly Oram, Liz Adair, McKenna Gardner, Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg, Penny Freeman, Tanya Parker Mills, Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Don’t miss this opportunity to attend amazing classes taught by expert faculty, network with fellow writers and authors, pitch your manuscript to literary agents and/or professional editors, and be inspired by our two incredible keynote speakers. Classes will cover craft, marketing, industry knowledge, and so much more for writers interested in all forms of publishing and of all ability levels.

One and two-day options available.

Open to the general public.

For more information and to register, go to

ANWA Conference

BooksAre you or is someone you love afflicted with an obsessive need to read (or watch) the entire story? Do you hear voices in your head? Do fictional characters often seem more real than people you know? Do you have notebooks or computer files filled with finished and unfinished stories, novels, or memoirs?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may have a serious disorder called “writer.”  Yes, it is every bit as terrifying as it sounds. But it doesn’t have to ruin your life. While there is no known cure for this pervasive affliction, there are coping skills that can turn these inner demons into your inspirational muse. How? Taking classes and workshops from the experts to discover if your secret fantasies of becoming a writer can become a reality.

Join others in a type of group therapy to help you learn skills to become a published author in whatever genre you love. Embrace your inner demons! Nurture them! Teach them to tell the story in you.

Time Out For Writers Annual Writers Conference

Feb 19-21, 2015

Phoenix Area

General Public Invited
Brandon Mull and Regina Sirois are our keynote speakers
John Rudolph with Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency
Pam Van Hylckama Klieg with D4EO Literary Agency
Lisa Magnum with Shadow Mountain Publishing
McKenna Gardner with Xchyler Publishing
Heather Moore with Precision Edition Group
Janette Rallison
Julie Wright
Kelly Oram
Liz Adair
Penny Freeman
Sarah M. Eden
Tanya Parker Mills
Dave Eaton
John Wincek
Joshua Oram
Angela Morrison
Betty Webb
Dr. Christina G. Hibbert, PSY. D.
For more info and to register see:

Arranged Marriages and True Love

English brideThe idea that we’d let our parents or guardians arranged our marriages leaves the modern day man and woman laughing–or possibly cringing. Yet this was a common custom throughout history in nearly every country of the world.  I’m sure a few of those marriages ended up as love matches, while most grew into a merely mutual amiability born of a determination to make the most of a difficult situation. However, many were supremely miserable.

Such arrangements are a favorite for the romance reader and author alike, inspiring countless historical romance novels about love springing from an arranged marriage. Such was the case for my very first published Regency Romance novel, The Stranger She Married.

Which begs the question; why were arranged marriages so common?

I can’t speak for other countries, but in England, the institution of marriage appears to be more a union of rank and property rather than of love. Though many popular ballads and plays of the era praised true love, in reality, practicability ruled more heavily than affairs of the heart.

During the Regency era, women, even ladies of the gentry and aristocracy, possessed very little independence. They were, in essence, property of their parents until they married, at which time they became property of their husbands. Therefore, parents cautiously settled their daughters in what they deemed were ‘good matches.’ They valued security over love because in a time when divorce was almost unheard of–and scandalous–marriage was a lifetime commitment, for better or worse. Parents searched for a men who would keep their daughter fed and cared for. They could only hope that love, or at the very least, regard, would bloom later.

Queen_Victoria_1847The Victorian era introduced the idea of romantic love and marriage among the upper classes (Think of Queen Victoria; hers was a love match). Prior to that, while it did happen and people dreamed of it, and it happened in all of Jane Austen’s novels, it really wasn’t something most people expected from marriage. Love sometimes happened with the wrong person which ruined families financially. Men understood that marriage was a duty.  Love itself, if it came, was a bonus.  In fact, most men had mistresses because marriage wasn’t usually a romantic relationship–it was more a business relationship.

Mistress often became an aristocratic man’s ideal of ‘lust and love.’  Heaven forbid a man fall in love with another man’s mistress!  Such a sin often meant death to that man because a man’s relationship with his mistress was intimate, one where men chose a woman to pleasure him, as opposed to duty being his deciding factor in choosing her.  It wasn’t just about sex with these mistresses–it was finding a woman who was everything his wife wasn’t.  Yeah. It makes me shudder, too. But that’s how it was, according to many sources including THE FAMILY, SEX, AND MARRIAGE in ENGLAND 1500-1800 by Lawrence Stone.

One such example was the 1774 marriage between the 17-year-old daughter of the Earl of Spencer, Georgiana, and the Duke of Devonshire, a 26-year-old man of supreme wealth, power, and influence.  On the surface, the union must have appeared an excellent match. The Duke desired a young wife of high rank to provide him with heirs.  For Georgiana, her status would be elevated to the coveted rank of duchess. According to reports, the young couple met a few times, all well chaperoned, before they wed. Reportedly, Georgiana tried to love her untouchable husband, but he returned to the arms of his mistress. Their infamously unhappy marriage proved that money and status could not guarantee love or  happiness.

The true story inspired Hollywood’s 2008 film The Duchess. The wedding gown costume worn by actress Keira Knightly, above, is gold and white, though it looks more as a candlelit cream. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

On the other hand, Amanda Vickery, in her book A Gentleman’s Daughter contends that many people married for affection; that it was, in fact, more common than marrying for rank or wealth. Still, arranged marriages were common, often with the couple only having met a few times, or not at all, prior to the wedding.

thestrangershemarried 2013 tinyAn arranged marriage born of necessity is the premise of my first published Regency historical romance novel, The Stranger She Married, book one of The Rogue Hearts Series, available in digital and print.  Their marriage, though fraught with danger, turns into a great love story.

After all, I’m all about the happily ever after :-)


When her parents and twin brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor’s prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he’d thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer’s attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to Alicia’s heart. And Cole must protect Alicia from the killer who has been exterminating her family before she is the next target.

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Believe in Happily Ever After!