Love and Courtship in Regency England

I admit I’ve been out of the dating scene for (ahem) a few years now. However, from what my single friends tell me, not much has changed since I was dated. In today’s world a man asks out a woman, (or if she’s braver than I ever was, she asks him out). They might meet online, or be introduced by a friend, but eventually they end up on that first date. It might be dinner or drinks or just coffee (in my case, hot cocoa). It might involve a movie or miniature golf or a museum. It might even occasionally include another couple but it never involves parents or chaperones, and no one thinks anything of an adult man and a woman being alone together in a car or a house.

Dating in Regency England was very different. For one thing, it was called courting or wooing. But most importantly, a young lady of good breeding who wished to keep her reputation pristine so she would be a candidate for marriage never, ever put herself alone with a man. (The double standard is, of course, that the man was expected to have “sown his wild oats” and could have a very sullied reputation and still be considered a good match if he were wealthy and well-connected enough.) Therefore, courting was a very public affair.

First, they needed an introduction by a mutual friend before conversing. They often met at balls which were THE places to meet those of similar social backgrounds, but they might also meet at a dinner party, soiree, musicale, or even the opera or the theater.

If the man wished to get better acquainted with the lady he’d met, he might send her flowers the next day (but never gifts or letters), and later pay a visit upon the family during their “at home” hours where her mother or aunt or other chaperone would be present. He might take her for a stroll in one of the walking parks, with a chaperone close at hand. He might even take her riding on horseback or in an open carriage—open being the operative word since riding in a closed carriage could ruin her reputation as quickly as being alone in a house with a man.

Courting could be short or take place over a long period of time. At a ball, if she refused to dance with any other man but him, she basically announced to the world that they were engaged. If she danced with him more than twice in one night, everyone assumed she was either engaged to him or was “fast,” a terrible label for a proper young lady. If he spent a lot of time with her to the point where people began to notice how much they were together, public opinion placed them as engaged. If he failed to make an offer of marriage for her, people said he had failed to come up to scratch and shook their heads and wondered if she were unsuitable or if he were. Either way, the couple’s reputations suffered. At that point, their only option would be to marry or live with tainted reputations. Depending on his status, his reputation would probably recover but hers would likely remain tainted.

Such courting practices may sound rigid and even sterile to the modern-day woman, but I think it leaves so much open. For one thing, they relied on witty conversation rather than getting physical to get to know each other. And since the courting practices were pretty predictable, a man had to use creativity to impress a lady.

Once he felt secure she returned his affections, the gentleman would make an appointment with the girl’s father and formally ask for her hand in marriage. His income would be scrutinized and they would draw up a prenuptial agreement called a marriage settlement which included her pin money, dress allowance, jointure, and other ways he’d provide for her, as well as what dowry would go to the man. With all that settled, the father would break the news to the girl and the wedding preparations would commence.

My goal as Regency romance author is to keep in mind these social customs known as ‘manners and mores’ and yet find unique ways for my hero and heroine to meet and fall in love. I enjoy creating a unique twist on acceptable courting, throwing lots of obstacles in the way of their happily ever after, and revealing the final, happy, triumphant ending.  That doesn’t make me a hopeless romantic, it makes me a hopeful romantic.

My tagline is ‘Believe in happily ever after’ because I do believe in it. Do you believe in happily ever after?

Vote for Courting the Countess in the 2016 Best Book of the Year Award

Thanks so much for being part of my writing journey! Usually on this blog, I share fun trivia and tidbits about the amazing world of the Regency Era. However, today I need your help. My newest Regency Romance, Courting the Countess, has been nominated in the Best Book for 2016 in the non-erotic category against several big name authors on the Long & Short Reviews. ​Voters are encouraged to read the reviews, then vote for their favorite book based on the review or on their own opinion of the book if they’ve read it. Today is the last day to vote so please follow the link and vote for  Courting the Countess, if you feel it deserves this prestigious award.
Thanks again for your support and encouragement. I hope 2017 is a wonderful and prosperous, and above all, happy year for us all.

Cover Reveal for new Regency Historical Romance Novel

I’m super excited to share with you the cover for my new book titled Courting the Countess. This all-new novel launches a new series, but still features a few characters you may recognize from my Rogue Hearts Series. And since this series pre-dates the Rogue Hearts, you’ll even get the meet the parents of the unconventional Amesbury siblings.

Haven’t read the Rogue Hearts? No worries; this is a stand-alone novel so you can start with this one if you are so inclined.

So, are you ready to see the new cover?

Okay, here we go:

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Ta da!

Isn’t it lovely?

This new novel will be available to purchase in October, but can be pre-ordered now so you don’t have to remember to order it when it is released. Just follow this link to pre-order your copy now.

Here is the back cover blurb for Courting the Countess:

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who abandoned him when she ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to wedding Lady Elizabeth, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

Pre-order your copy of Courting the Countess here.

 

Cover Reveal for Sweet Regency Romance Novel, Heartstrings

Announcing my newest sweet Regency romance novel, Heartstrings.

Synopsis:
Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

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And now … are you ready to see the wonderful new cover??

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To celebrate, I’m having a cover reveal party on Facebook, going on all day, with lots of chances to win free stuff, including Amazon gift cards. So please come join the fun! Follow this link to the fun!

Book giveaway

The Suspect's Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

***GIVEAWAY CLOSED****

THE WINNERS: Julie won A Perfect Secret and Jerika and Rebecca won The Suspect’s Daughter.  CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you to everyone who entered.

It’s giveaway time! I am giving away 2 PROOF paperback copies of The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts series. If you have not yet read any of my other books, don’t worry–you don’t have to have read them first in order to understand this book. It’s written as a complete, stand-alone story.

Here is the back cover blurb of The Suspect’s Daughter:

Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril. Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone. Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance…and so does their love.

Like all my stories, The Suspect’s Daughter is a Clean & Wholesome Romance. It gets a bit gritty and deals with some sensitive subjects, but there are never sex scenes or bad language in any of my books.

This particular copy is the early, “proof” edition of The Suspect’s Daughter. It was printed to give to final proof readers and has a couple of dozen or so typos and other errors in it. So please be kind when you read it–it’s not perfect. The final copy that is available for sale on Amazon has these errors corrected.

If you’d like to enter one of two free proof copies of The Suspect’s Daughter that I am giving away, please leave a comment in the Comments section below. Include the title of the book you want, your name, and your email address so I can contact you. This is a purely random drawing.

I ask nothing in return, however, if you feel you can give it a good review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, please consider doing so. Reviews really are the life-blood of an author.

A Perfect Secret

Original cover

Also, I am giving away a paperback copy of my book, A Perfect Secret book 3 in the Rogue Hearts Series. This particular book has the original cover, not the new and improved cover, which is why I’m giving it away. It’s the same story–just with a new cover.

The old cover is pictured at the left. The new cover, pictured at the right, is NOT part of the giveaway. I’m just showing it so you know what it looks like. I’m just nice like that 🙂

Here is the back cover blurb of A Perfect Secret:

APerfectSecret2Desperate to protect her father from trial and execution, Genevieve breaks off her engagement with Christian Amesbury and marries a blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and freedom, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves. Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married. When her husband torments Genevieve and puts the Amesbury family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

Like all my stories, A Perfect Secret is a Clean & Wholesome Romance. It gets a bit gritty and deals with some sensitive subjects, but there are never sex scenes or bad language in any of my books.

If you’d like to enter to win a paperback copy of A Perfect Secret, please leave a comment in the Comments section below. Include the title of the book you want, your name, and your email address so I can contact you. This is a purely random drawing.

I ask nothing in return, however, if you feel you can give it a good review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, please consider doing so. Reviews really are the life-blood of an author.

Rules:

Available only in US and Canada

Random drawing

No purchase necessary

Void where prohibited

 

 

 

 

The Power of Readers Prompts a New Release–A Perfect Match

Summer House party

Readers probably don’t know how much power they have. Think of it. If readers didn’t buy and read books, authors wouldn’t publish the mad scribblings they feel compelled to write. They might not even write a lot stories if no one read them. After all, there’s nothing like a deadline or fan letters asking for the next book to make a writer finish the next manuscript in a timely manner (or at all). Furthermore, readers’ opinions matter a great deal to authors, and I am no exception.

Normally I don’t read very many reviews posted on Amazon–especially ones less than 4 stars. It’s enough to know reviews are there, helping other readers find my books (because, yes, reviews really do make a huge difference–but that’s a rant for another day). I don’t often read reviews because each time I do, I subject myself to the possibility that a reader will dislike some aspect of my book (my darling baby). Criticism hurts, no matter how hard I try to grow a thick skin. However, I broke several writing rules in the third book in my Rogue Hearts series, A Perfect Secret, and I wanted to know how fans felt about it. So, I turned to reviews.

APerfectSecret2In one review, a reader said her only complaint with A Perfect Secret was that the story began with the two main characters already in love, and she prefers books that start with the characters meeting and falling in love for the first time. (The book actually starts with them getting torn apart, and the rest of the story is about how they find their way back together, get over their hard feelings, and how they learn to trust and love each other again). Anyway, after I got over my hurt and my defensiveness, I took her opinion to heart and tucked it away for another time.

Incidentally, A Perfect Secret is my mother’s favorite, probably because she relates to Genevieve–my mother, too, fled an abusive husband and found a second chance to love.

A couple years later, when the publisher invited me to participate in another TIMELESS Regency anthology called Summer House Party, I knew my novella needed to be about how Christian and Genevieve meet for the first time, how they fall in love, and how the terrible Lord Wickburgh becomes obsessed with Genevieve. So I delved into their backstory and created a prequel with all new challenges, and some fun new characters, which tells their whole backstory. The result is”A Perfect Match,” a prequel which leads seamlessly into the next part of their story told in “A Perfect Secret.” Rest assured, each tale is complete enough to be read as a stand-alone story, and the both stories, including the prequel, has a strong happily ever after ending. However,  the two books together complete Christian and Genevieve’s story as a whole.

Summer House partyA Perfect Match” is one of three 100-page novellas contained in Summer House Party. The other two novellas are penned by some of my favorite historical authors, Regina Scott and Sarah M. Eden.  This TIMELESS Regency Collection will be released exclusively on Amazon June 6, 2016 and is available now for pre-order.

So, thank you to that reader who wished she could have experienced Christian and Genevieve’s first meeting, their first touch, their first kiss, and how they fell in love that very first time. This one is for you.

Excerpt from “A Perfect Match,” the prequel to A Perfect Secret:

Christian shied away from the truth, from the horrible challenge that led to his brother Jason’s death, and the scattering of his brothers over the fight Christian caused between them and the earl. He breathed through the pain lancing his chest. “I have done things in my past that I deeply regret. Lost people I thought would always be there—some through my own actions.”

Genevieve slipped her hand into his and squeezed it gently. “Everyone deserves to be loved, to be given a second chance. Even you. Especially you.”

A Perfect Match,” one of three novellas in Summer House Party, is available now for pre-order from Amazon.

Today, to celebrate the upcoming release of “A Perfect Match,” contained in Summer House Party, I am giving away one digital copy and one paperback copy of the complete novel A Perfect SecretTo enter the drawing, simply leave a comment with your name, your email address, and if you prefer an ebook in the format of your choice, or a paperback book.

Rules:

NO purchase necessary

Paperback available only to US and Canada winners–international winners will receive an ebook in the format of their choice

Void where prohibited

 

 

Marriage in Regency England–Special License

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold 1816

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold                                  1816

English marriage, and the methods in which one could place one’s neck in the “parson’s noose,” underwent a number of changes just prior to the Regency, and they changed again during the Victorian Era. Though a Special License appears frequently in romance novels, during the Regency Era, it was issued rarely, and only under extenuating circumstances.

During the Regency, the most common way to get married (especially among the humbler classes) was to have the banns posted also called “putting up the banns.” This required posting on the wall of the church and read by the clergy from the pulpit of both the bride and the groom’s parish for three consecutive Sundays in order to give the public a chance to object to the marriage. After that, couple could get married within 90 days, and the wedding must take place between 8 in the morning and noon in the husband or wife’s parish of Church of England, even if the couple were Catholic. Quakers and Jews were exempt, apparently.

A couple wishing to marry could also do so by ordinary license. This did not require putting up the banns, but it cost  money–not much, but it wasn’t free, and it had many of the same restrictions of marriage by banns.

Marriage by special license was different. The advantages of having a special license were that a couple could marry any time and place that they wished. When applying for a special license, certain criteria must be met. First of all, few outside of titled lords and their spouses and children were eligible, and one seeking such privilege must go appeal to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

According to noted researcher and novelist, Susanna Ives:

“BY the Statute of 23 Hen. VIII., the Archbishop of Canterbury has power to grant Special Licences; but in a certain sense these are limited. His Grace restricts his authority to Peers and Peeresses in their own right, to their sons and daughters, to Dowager Peeresses, to Privy Councillors, to Judges of the Courts at Westminster, to Baronets and Knights, and to Members of Parliament ; and by an order of a former Prelate, to no other person is a special licence to be given, unless they allege very strong and weighty reasons for such indulgence, arising from particular circumstances of the case, and they must prove the truth of the same to the satisfaction of the Archbishop.”

“In the case where the parties applying do not rank within the restricted indulgences, a personal interview should be sought, or a letter of introduction to his Grace should be obtained, containing the reasons for wishing the favour granted. Should his Grace grant his fiat, in either case the gentleman attends his proctor to make the usual affidavit, that there is no impediment to the marriage—the same as in an ordinary licence.” 

Charles Manners-Sutton (1755–1828), Archbishop of Canterbury.

Charles Manners-Sutton (1755–1828), Archbishop of Canterbury.

When applying for a special license, both the bride and groom must be named so the Archbishop of Canterbury could verify their eligibility to wed.  Since those who could use a special license were all members of the upper class, and since the archbishop sat in the House of Lords, His Grace probably knew most of them. Regardless, he would not have issued a license without verifying their eligibility to wed.

Also, a special license cost quite a bit more than a regular  marriage license. However, a special license allowed a couple to marry in any location and at any time. It also made the posting the banns unnecessary, so if there were some reason a couple wanted to marry in haste, or didn’t want to subject themselves to public protestation, this allowed a way to do it.

Remember, though, that obtaining special license was dependent on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decree and goodwill. His Grace didn’t grant Special Licenses frequently nor lightly.

More information about the different methods available to the Regency couple wishing to marry can be found here.

Sources:

http://www.regencyresearcher.com/pages/marriage.html

Regency Era Marriage Customs

Victorian Wedding Etiquette in 1852

Regency Courting

I admit, I’ve been out of the dating scene for (ahem) a few years now. Okay, over twenty. But from what my single friends tell me, not much has changed since I was dated. Basically a man asks out a woman, (or if she’s braver than I ever was, she asks him out). They might meet online, or be introduced by a friend, but eventually they end up on that first date. It might be dinner or drinks or just coffee. It might involve a movie or miniature golf or a museum. It might even occasionally include another couple but it never involves parents or chaperones, and no one thinks anything of an adult man and a woman being alone together in a car or a house.  

Dating in Regency England was very different. For one thing, it was called courting or wooing. But most importantly, a young lady of good breeding who wished to keep her reputation pristine so she would be a candidate for marriage never, ever put herself alone with a man. (The double standard is, of course, that the man could have a very sullied reputation and still be considered a good match if he were wealthy and well-connected enough, but that’s another matter.) Therefore, courting was a very public affair.

First they’d have to be introduced by a mutual friend before conversing. They often met at balls which were THE places to meet those of similar social backgrounds, but they might also meet at a dinner party, soiree, musicale, or even the opera or the theater.

If the man wished to get better acquainted with the lady he’d met, he’d send her flowers the next day, and later pay a visit upon the family during their “at home” hours where her mother or aunt or other chaperone would be present. He might take her for a stroll in one of the walking parks, or take her riding, either horseback or in an open carriage–open being the operative word since riding in a closed carriage could ruin her reputation as quickly as being alone in a house with a man. During these public outings, a chaperone may or may not be close at hand.

Courting could be short or take place over a long period of time. If she refused to dance with any other man but him, she basically announced to the world that she was unofficially engaged. If she danced with him more than twice in one night, everyone assumed she was either engaged to him or was “fast,” a terrible label for a proper young lady. If he spent a lot of time with her to the  point where people began to notice how much they were together, public opinion placed them as engaged. If he failed to make an offer of marriage for her, people said he had failed to come up to scratch and shook their heads and wondered if she were unsuitable or if he were. Either way, the couple’s reputations suffered.

Such courting practices may sound rigid and even sterile to the modern-day woman, but I think it leaves so much open. For one thing, they relied on witty conversation rather than getting physical to get to know each other. And since the courting practices were pretty predictable, a man had to use creativity to impress a lady.

Once he felt secure she returned his affections, the gentleman would make an appointment with the girl’s father and formally ask for her hand in marriage. His income would be scrutinized and they would draw up a prenuptial agreement called a marriage settlement which included her pin money, dress allowance, jointure, and other ways he’d provide for her, as well as what dowry would go to the man. With all that settled, the father would break the news to the girl and the wedding preparations would commence. 

My job as Regency romance author is to keep in mind these social customs known as ‘manners and mores’ and yet find unique ways for my hero and heroine to meet and fall in love. It’s fun to create a unique twist on acceptable courting, throwing in lots of obstacles in the way of their happily ever after, and revealing the final, happy, triumphant ending.  That doesn’t make me a hopeless romantic, it makes me a hopeful romantic. My tagline is ‘Believe in happily ever after’ because I do.