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?

Harps and Music

harp3

Harp belonging to Adrienne Bridgewater

If you’re like me, the very thought of a harp creates a magical wistfulness inside. When I was twelve years old, I had an opportunity to take harp lessons, and something came alive inside me. Instantly, more than anything. I wanted–no, had–to learn to play. It’s been an ongoing love affair ever since.

Playing the harp takes years to master, and a great deal of time must be devoted to technique, not just learning to read music. It has been said that harp is the second most difficult instrument to learn to play. (Apparently bagpipes is the hardest.)

Back when I used to perform, many people come up to me after my performance and tell me that they’d never seen a harp up close before. I assume that’s a fairly common situation. So, I thought I’d give you a few basics of a classical pedal harp’s anatomy.

The “base” is the bottom part of the harp where it stands on the ground. The little claw looking things all around the base are called “feet.” When the harp is in use, it balances on the feet and rests against the inside of a harpist’s knees as well as lightly against the right shoulder. The long, thin part at the left of this picture is called the “column.” You probably could have guessed that, couldn’t you? The column is filled with long mechanical gears that help change the strings. The column exterior is usually intricately carved. Some of the more expensive harps, like Adrienne’s harp in the picture, are also gilded with gold leaf.

harp base

Adrienne’s harp

The photo on the right is a close up of the harp’s base where you can see the feet. You can also see the pedals (the black things that stick out). There are seven different pedals, one for every note in all the octaves. For example, one pedal controls all the harp’s C strings. Another pedal controls all of the D strings, and so forth. Moving the pedals into different positions can make each string either sharp, natural, or flat, as desired. When the moving the harp, the harpist can flip the feet up using a hinge so they rest closely against the harp’s body, cutting down on the likelihood of damage.

Until about a hundred years ago, harps had an eighth pedal which opened a panel in the back to allow access to changing out strings. Today’s modern harps have oblong holes that provides the same access. Strings must be fed through these access holes, through the holes in the soundboard, and wound around the little pegs in the picture below.

DSCF8208

Harp belonging to Donna Hatch

This photo of my harp to the left is a close up of the top, curving part of the harp, called the “neck,” which also shows the harp string pegs and all those little lever thingies which are called the “action.” These levers move when the harp pedals move, which shortens or lengthens the strings to change key depending on the position of the pedal. To tune, one tightens or loosens the strings, similar to tuning a guitar or violin, but a special tool is required–one cannot turn them with fingers.

You’ll also notice that some of the strings are red, some are black, and the rest are white. The red strings are C, the black are F. This allows the harpist to easily find the correct strings, although an advanced harpist pretty much knows where the strings are by the position of their arms and hands, but everyone needs an occasional guide, especially for performance. The strings are laid out like a piano (minus the black keys)–A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Then it repeats. My harp had six and a half octaves. The full-sized concert harps have seven. Smaller harps have fewer octaves.louisxviharp

The wide part of the harp that has all the scrollwork and painting is called the “soundboard.” Large soundboards usually have the biggest, richest tone. Tone can also be affected by the kind of wood used and age–the older ones have a gloriously rich tone.

A folk harp or lever harp is similar to a pedal harp–just smaller and has levers instead of pedals to change key. Folk harpist use their hands to change keys by flipping up a lever; classical harpists use their foot pedals.

Unlike some images, the harp is played with the body of the harp resting against the harpist’s right shoulder, opposite the column. Reportedly, Harpo Marx, who was a self-taught harpist, started playing the harp backwards–with the column, instead of the body of the harp, resting against his shoulder. When he realized his error, he changed his technique which, I am sure, helped him develop his skill. Many pictures show the harpist resting the body of the harp against her left shoulder which is not considered proper technique and indeed I would find very confusing because one would have to play the treble clef with the left hand instead of the right.

Harpists spend years perfecting the art of harp playing, and if done correctly, make it look easy by the graceful motion of their hands. Because of my great love for the harp, I mention a harp or harpist in all of my novels, and in most of my short stories and novellas.

Since music is such a part of my life, I decided to write a series of  novels about musicians. The first one in the series is called Heart Strings which features a harpist and a violinist. In fact, one of my most beloved teachers was the great Phyllis Schlomovitz. I give a nod to her in my newest short novel when my heroine identifies her teacher Phillip Schlomovitz.

heartstrings2_fullHere is the backcover blurb for Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming September 7, 2016, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

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.

Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming September 7, 2016, now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Titles and Heirs

Sir_Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_WellingtonSince the subject of titles in Regency England seems to be both confusing and detailed, it bears revisiting. For today’s post, I will focus on heirs: both heirs apparent and heirs presumptive.

An heir apparent is the son of a titled lord or landholder. Let’s say, for example, the father is the Earl of Charming. Charming probably has a secondary title or two (or more) because most peers did, due to the whim of royalty over the years. If one of Charming’s secondary titles were, say the Viscount Handsome, then Charming’s eldest son would bear the courtesy title of Viscount Handsome. Handsome is Charming’s apparent heir, so he bears the courtesy title and is known as his “heir apparent.” I think of it as; “His heir is apparently his son.”

Note: Despite what you may read in some novels, sons who are heirs apparent cannot be disinherited from their rightful titles just because the father thinks the son is undeserving. It takes an act of parliament to do such a thing and those were granted in extreme cases.

Longleat House

Longleat House

Now, what if the Earl of Charming has no son–only daughters (or no children)? At this point, he now must grant his title and estates to his heir presumptive. It may be his younger brother or even a distant cousin–whomever is the closest living male relative. The heir presumptive does not use the courtesy title of Viscount of Handsome, but he can presume that he will someday be the Earl of Charming because no other living male heir stands in his way. Yet. Anyone who can be supplanted in the line of succession by the birth of a boy is an heir presumptive, no matter how unlikely that birth seems. One can think of this as; “The heir presumptive presumes he will inherit the title and property.”

If, of course, the good Earl of Charming eventually has a son, even in his latter years, the heir presumptive no longer can hope for such a grand inheritance, because it all goes to Charming’s son, his heir apparent. Immediately upon his birth, the new baby boy bears the courtesy title, Viscount of Handsome.

The only heir apparent is the current title holder’s eldest son.

Now this works the same way even if there is no title involved. Let’s say Mr. Dashing is a landowner, similar to the Bennett family in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. If Mr. Dashing had a son, his son would be his heir apparent. If he had 5 sons, the eldest would be his heir apparent. If, however, Dashing has no sons, only daughters (or no children) all of his entailed property now goes to the closest living heir–a younger brother or a nephew or a cousin, even if he is as obnoxious as the unforgettable Mr. Collins. In other words, the heir presumptive is granted the same way regardless if there is a title or courtesy title involved.

http://www.ancestryimages.com/proddetail.php?prod=f1181If Dashing’s estate is entailed, he cannot choose to whom he will leave the property. It’s set in stone. It goes to the closest living male relative or heir. Dashing can will non-entailed property to anyone he wants, but nothing entailed, which most estates were.

TheStrangerSheMarried_432 (2)

Book One of the Rogue Hearts Series

In my Amesbury family series, The Rogue Hearts Series, the father of this unruly bunch is the Earl of Tarrington, and his eldest son, Cole, is his heir apparent who uses the courtesy title Viscount Amesbury and has since birth. When the Earl of Tarrington dies, Cole becomes the new Earl of Tarrington, and all secondary titles go to him as well. Cole’s heir presumptive would be his younger brother Jared. But Jared never uses a courtesy title. When Cole and his wife have a son, the child becomes the heir apparent and uses the courtesy title, Viscount Amesbury from the moment of his birth.

So, in a nutshell:

A lord’s son is his heir apparent.

A lord’s brother or nephew or cousin, whomever is closer to him in the bloodline, is his heir presumptive.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion and is useful to you in some way, even if all it does is explain why the annoying Mr. Collins assumed he would inherit Mr. Bennett’s property and why Mrs. Bennett was in such a state of agitation that she and her daughters might be thrown out into the cold, cruel world immediately upon her husband’s death (which actually kind of happened in Sense & Sensibility, if you’ll recall).

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

 

 

 

 

Bow Street and the Bow Street Runners

by Donna Hatch

Bow_Street_MicrocosmNext to Robin Hood’s Merry Men, few other groups inspire images of mystery and intrigue quite as well as Bow Street Runners. They were a unique and unprecedented fighting force that paved the way for London’s modern police, Scotland Yard. They are also no longer in existence, and very little is actually known about them. Hence the mystery. And the tragedy.

Before the Magistrate of Bow Street formed the famous Runners, there was no real organized police force and no true police procedures. The few constables in London were virtually untrained and failed to do much to protect the innocent or bring justice to the guilty. There was a Night Watch made up on a rotating basis by the men in a particular district. However, most working-class men wouldn’t or couldn’t be up all night keeping watch. Besides, it was dangerous–ruffians and thugs they tried to arrest usually fought back. Some of these members of the Nigh Watch hired out others to take their turn. Often elderly men who needed the money because they could no longer work filled these roles. These night watchmen typically huddled in groups around the nearest light and hoped no one would harass them. Needless to say, they were an ineffective deterrence to most thieves.

Therefore, the average citizen performed most arrests. The citizen who’d been wronged had to gather all his own evidence, perform the arrest, drag the person before the magistrate (judge) and convince the magistrate this was their man. This citizen served as investigator, policeman, and lawyer all in one–a daunting task, to be sure. Although since the accused were considered guilty unless proven innocent, receiving a guilty verdict was usually a no-brainer. I’m sure some took advantage of this system to seek revenge for wrongs that had little to do with the law.

Bow_Street_QE3_117Into this ineffective chaos stepped the Fielding brothers. Henry Fielding was a magistrate who operated his office on Bow Street. In 1750, he organized an elite fighting force of highly trained and disciplined young men known as the Bow Street Runners. Nick-named the “Robins Redbreasts” for their distinctive red waistcoats (sometimes spelled weskits because that’s how it’s pronounced). Runners were trained to conduct investigations including rudimentary forensics, and how to question witnesses and victims. They even carried handcuffs. How early they began carrying these restraints and wearing the red waistcoats is anyone’s guess, but there are Bow Street Runners with handcuffs and red waistcoats in St. Ives by Robert Lewis Stevenson which was written in 1897.

In the early years, there were only six Bow Street Runners in London. For some reason, that number was kept constant at first. But later, those figures grew and there was even a mounted patrol who protected the highways leading outside of London from the dreaded and dangerous highwaymen. This mounted patrol changed safety, and therefore nature, of travel.

CatostconspiratorsWhile the office of a magistrate belonged exclusively to gentlemen of the nobility or landed gentry, the Bow Street Runners were working class men. They were smart, skilled, well-trained, and cunning. The Fielding brothers hand-picked them for the position. Though the Runners typically remained in the London area, there are accounts of them tracking fugitives as far as the Scottish border. They drew a modest salary from Bow Street, so most of their pay came in the form of a bounty or reward, usually paid by the victim or a group who had a vested interest in solving a crime. Runners were also hired out to conduct special investigations, and to act as body guards. I have found no evidence of foul play or bribes taken, suggesting that they were men of honor and that they had a strong loyalty to their magistrate who was always a man of integrity.

Magistrates in other districts of London followed the Fielding’s example by having a specific group of effective investigators–for example, the Thames River Police–but none achieved the lasting acclaim that the Runners did.

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

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

In 1830, when Scotland Yard was organized, the Bow Street Runners became obsolete. Much of Scotland Yard’s procedures evolved from those created by the Runners, and I can only assume that many Runners became investigators for Scotland Yard. Progress is usually a good thing, but I feel a sense of loss whenever something unique is swept away to make room for something “better.”

In my newest book, The Suspect’s Daughter, the hero, Grant Amesbury often helps Bow Street to solve crimes and is heavily involved with the Runners, many of whom are also friends. But the crime of the century comes along and the magistrate of Bow street asks my hero for help. A real life event, known as the Cato Street Conspiracy provided the inspiration for my novel, The Suspect’s Daughter.

 

 

 

Book Giveaway

Original cover

It’s time to celebrate the upcoming release of book 4 in my award-winning “Rogue Hearts Regency Series,” The Suspect’s Daughter, available December 3, 2015.  Celebrating is always more fun with friends. So, I am giving away five copies of book 3, A Perfect Secret which features Grant who is the hero of book 4. Winners have a choice of receiving a paperback copy or a digital copy for ebook readers.

Since its original release, A Perfect Secret has received a new cover, but the story is the same. The version I am giving away has the original cover, which is pictured to the left.

It is my hope that these copies will go to someone who has not yet read any of my books, but anyone can enter the drawing.

Here is the back cover blurb for my “clean and wholesome” Regency Romance:

APerfectSecret2

new cover

Desperate to protect her father from trial and execution, Genevieve breaks off her engagement to Christian Amesbury and marries her father’s 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 abandon her, nor can he 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.

To enter the drawing, simply put your name and email address in the comments section below. If you want a second chance to win, “like” my author Facebook page and put “I liked your page” in your comment.

Rules:

No purchase necessary.

Giveaway open to everyone; US and Canada may receive paperback copies or digital upon request.

International winners will receive digital copies. Void where prohibited.

And the winners are:

Sireena, Julia, Heidi, Jerika, and Heather. Whoo hoo! (throws confetti)

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my giveaway.

 

 

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 🙂

20150914_120739

New Release!!

I’m delighted to announce the release of my newest Regency romance short story, A Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance available November 5, 2014. You can pre-order it on Amazon right now!

A Christmas Reunion new coverA Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance

Heartbroken that her betrothed has wed another woman, Emily is determined to pick up the pieces of her life and enjoy Christmas with her family. ​

Newly returned from war, Bennett holds a secret and will do anything to ensure Emily, his only true love, never discovers it…even if it means losing her.

Fate reunites the star-crossed lovers and reveals the truth that will either unite them or drive them apart forever.

 The Gift of a Second Chance,  published by The Wild Rose Press (where you can also order it) will be available in digital format everywhere ebooks are sold starting November 5, 2014. Remember, you can pre-order it today on Amazon.

Welcome

Dance with a duke, outwit pirates, save a kingdom, and fall in love. Believe in happily ever after.

“Written with heart and depth, Donna Hatch’s books are absolute must-reads for any fan of swoon-worthy historical romance.” ~ Sarah M. Eden, USA Today best-selling historical romance author

Coming Soon:

Courting the Country Miss

Cynical and broken-hearted, Leticia banishes dreams of marriage. When her childhood friend, Tristan, wagers he can find her the perfect husband, she hopes the challenge will coax him to forgo his devil-may-care lifestyle. Meanwhile, Leticia throws herself into forming her charity school but meets opposition—even from the people she’s helping.

Guilt-ridden that his past mistakes robbed Leticia of true love, Tristan vows to set it right, but match-making has its pitfalls for a repentant scoundrel. When he finds two ‘perfect’ gentlemen to court her, he discovers his own deep feelings for the lady.

Though Tristan seems to reform, Leticia doesn’t dare risk heartbreak with a notorious rake. When opposition for the school takes a deadly turn, can Tristan protect her from a madman bent on destroying their dreams and their lives?

Courting the Country Miss, a follow up to Courting the Countess, is Coming Soon from the Wild Rose Press.

New Release:

The Matchmaking Game  

Purchase on Amazon today!

Rowena’s childhood friend, Evan, has returned home from war a handsome, but mysterious stranger. In an effort to bring happiness to her father, not to mention uncover the Evan she remembers from their youth, Rowena seeks to unite their parents. Who better to match a lonely widow and widower together than their adoring children? Her matchmaking game could help their parents find happiness and draw out her childhood friend buried beneath Evan’s new reserve … or it could break more than one heart.

Buy now from Amazon

Reviews:

“The Matchmaking Game by Donna Hatch is a delightful treat for the heart! With sizzling kisses, charming humor, and a tender friendship, it’s the perfect choice for a quick weekend read. You will fall in love with the characters and be sad to bid them farewell. And did I mention the kisses?!?!” ~ Reading is My Super Power 

 I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I am sure most every other reader will too.” ~ Rainy Day Reviews

“I was quickly sucked into the story and didn’t want to leave. I loved the slow buildup of the romance between these two, and how everything works out…a charming Regency that will warm your heart. Very enjoyable.” ~ Bookworm Nation

 

“Such a great story! The characters are vivid, the setting is awesome, the conflict is angsty, and the romance is… so romantic! . . . I loved this Regency romance and could not put it down until I was finished!”~ Heidi Reads

 

 This is a great pick if you’re looking for a quick, clean Regency romance to keep you entertained for an afternoon!” ~ Mel’s Shelves

 

“Donna Hatch does such a good job of creating characters that feel real and sincere. I love that. . . . This book was just fun. It made me smile and left me feeling happy.” ~ Getting Your Read On 

 

And talk about kisses! WOW! There’s one in particular that’s stick-your-head-in-the-freezer swoonilicious! Keep a fan and fainting couch close at hand for this read.”~ Reading is My Super Power

Reviews for Courting the Countess:



“Donna Hatch weaves together a compelling love story with emotionally damaged characters and skillfully moves them along with attention-keeping happenings that lead to healing and redemption and, of course, a heart-satisfying happy-even-after.” ~ The Long and Short Reviews

“Another hit from Ms. Hatch. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading it again!” ~ Bookworm Nation

“I had plenty of flutterings in my belly with this book!  Oh, the build up and the misunderstanding.  This book has all the things I look for as a reader.  Every time I pick up a book by Donna Hatch, I know I’m in for a treat.”   Getting Your Read On 

“The ending is absolutely perfect. If you like reading stories of/with Regency Romance, trust issues, a little mystery, marriage not made by love, learning to love, [overcoming] abuse, clean read (Lots of kissing), and finding where you are meant to be, then this might be for you!” ~ Kindle and Me

“Donna Hatch does not disappoint…I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.”~  Zina Abbott Books

Buy now from Amazon

Buy now from The Wild Rose Press
Donna Hatch’s Historical Romance Novels sweeps readers away into the magical Regency Romance Era. These meticulously-researched and beautifully-written tales transport readers to the glittering and sometimes dangerous realm of Regency England, a unique time in British history immortalized by Jane Austen and Lord Byron. Ms. Hatch’s unusual style weaves virtue and values in her stories while including plenty of chemistry and swoon-worthy moments. Every “sweet” or PG-rated historical romance penned by Donna Hatch brings feisty heroines and strong heroes together for a glorious happily ever after.
“No one creates chemistry between Regency Historical characters better than Donna Hatch.  If you want a “sweet” read, but with lots of sizzle, you have to read her books.”  ~ Author Carol A. Spradling

English Afternoon Tea, Jane Austen Style

English tea with clotted cream

Tea is a time-honored tradition, and to me (an American), nothing says British Custom like afternoon tea. While most of us may think of High Tea as an upper class  tradition dating back hundreds of years, I discovered something else entirely.

Tea in the afternoon didn’t actually become common until the 1700’s. By the Regency Era, the custom had long-since caught on and the upper class had afternoon tea about four o’clock, which was before the fashionable time to promenade in Hyde Park if one was in London. Afternoon tea included, of course, tea served hot. Also served with tea, one would find small finger sandwiches (thin and crust-less, thank you), biscuits (which the Americans call cookies), seedcake, and small cakes—not petite fours, at least, not during Regency but small cakes sometimes called fairly cakes with butter icing, which, from what I’ve been able to tell, were probably not much bigger than mini cupcakes. There has been much discussion among Regency enthusiasts as to whether scones with jam and clotted cream (also known as Devonshire cream) were served during the Regency or if that become more common during the Victorian era, when High Tea became such a grand affaire.

Food with tea probably evolved because the upper classes ate dinner at the fashionable time of about eight o’clock at night, and since many had not yet adopted the custom of luncheon or nuncheon, they probably needed that small meal in the middle of the day. Personally, I like a small meal in the afternoon even though I do eat lunch. I would have made a great hobbit with with custom of eating “elevensies” and lunch and afternoon tea, etc. But I digress.

 “High Tea” developed during the Victorian era. Some accounts say that high tea, served later in the day at about five or six o’clock, originated with the lower classes but I don’t understand how they could come home from work for high tea and then return to work for a few hours and then go home again for dinner. *shrug* Plus, tea was expensive.

At any rate, High Tea is a more filling meal than afternoon tea. High tea usually comes with white and brown bread, meats such as roast pork, fish like salmon, scones, an assortment of sweets such as cake pie, trifle, lemon-cheese tarts, sponge cake, walnut cake, chocolate roll, pound cake, currant teacake, curd tart, macaroons, a variety of cheeses, jellies, as well as butter or clotted cream.

According to Laura Boyl in her article “Tea Time” on the Jane Austen website, the different names are derived from the height of the tables where the meals were served. Low tea is served on a table, which in the United States would be called “coffee tables.” High tea is served on the dinner table.

Because the characters in my Regency romance novels all hail from the upper class, or end up there eventually, I will focus on afternoon tea because that’s what they do every day, unless they are fighting pirates or running for their lives or battling villains, of course.

 Most sandwiches in the UK are traditionally made with a very thin white bread, generously buttered with potted paste. The potted paste could similar to deviled ham, but also could be a fish paste–salmon, for instance, very thinly spread. I guess they liked their pleasures small, thin, and bite-sized. 

Tea was (and still is, sometimes) served in a china or silver pot accompanied by slices of lemon or milk. They never put cream in their tea or it would ruin the flavor. According to Regency researcher and author, Kathryn Kane, tea leaves used during the Regency were chopped much more coarsely than those used today. The large size required that the tea be steeped for a longer period, but it also made it easier to strain the used leaves from the tea after it had been steeped. There was a special implement included in many tea services used to clear the strainer at the base of the spout of the tea pot, or to strain the used leaves out of each cup before it was served. You can find more detail at: http://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/the-mote-skimmer-a-specialty-tea-accessory/

tea 2However, Regency author Grace Kone, who is British, told me that if it’s done correctly, the tea leaves stay on the bottom, with just enough pouring out to make a scattering of leaves for fortune-telling. (It sounds very Harry Potter, doesn’t it?) Grace said she has never in her life strained leaf tea. Other British friends such as author Janis Susan May Patterson use something called a tea ball, which is small metal case into which she places the tea leaves. These are also known as ‘tea eggs.’ Other friends pour their tea into their cups through a silver tea strainer, like the one in this picture:

Here is a recipe, courtesy Regency author, Miranda Neville, for cucumber sandwiches:

Very thinly sliced white bread (or whole wheat if you insist on being healthy but really, why bother?). I use Pepperidge Farm Very Thin

Good quality unsalted butter

English cucumbers (about† one and a half per loaf of bread)

Salt

1. Slice the cucumbers very thin. Put them in a colander mixed up with some† salt, weigh them down with a plate, and leave them in the sink to drain for an hour or two.

2. Wash the salt off and pat dryish with a dish towel.

3. Butter the bread.

4. Put two layers of cucumber slices in each sandwich and press flat with your hand so it all sticks together, preferably without becoming totally squashed.

5. Cut off the crusts (very important). With a big sharp knife cut each sandwich into four – triangles, squares, or strips, your preference.

And from “The Royal Pavilion at Brighton a booklet A Choice Selection of Regency Recipes you can  now make at Home” here is a recipe for macaroons.

Macaroons.
1 large egg white
2 oz ( 55 g) ground almonds
2 oz (55) g caster sugar
a few drops rose water
1-2 drops almond essence
about 12 slivered almonds =-optional.

Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas3 

Line as baking sheet with baking parchment paper. Whisk egg white until stiff. Using a large  metal spoon, fold in  the ground almonds, sugar, rosewater, and almond essence.  Mix until blended  into a smooth thick paste.

Using a teaspoon, put blobs of  the mixture on the lined baking sheet, leaving space between them to allow for expansion during cooking. Flatten with the back of a spoon. If you like you can top each with a sliver of almond.  Bake for about 20 minutes until light golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and leave to cool. Makes about 12.

Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Jane Austen TeaI think for my next book launch I will have afternoon tea.  In fact, I may not wait that long. I may just have a tea party just because it’s a fun and sort of a girly thing to do. I’m not a traditional tea drinker because I don’t use a lot of caffeine, so I may deviate from tradition and have herbal tea in my cup. But having tea is great fun. I attend an annual Jane Austen tea in Salt Lake City, UT with some of my Jane Austen geeky friends such as Sarah M. Eden. We have high tea, so we had lots of food (including non-traditional fruit and veggies) and we eat at small dinner tables with chairs. We all dress up and did our fair fancy.

tea 3We even have some period entertainment such as a poetry reading, a soloist, and a flutist. It was so fun! 

Have you ever had afternoon tea?