Why Pirates?

Blackbeard_battle_colourPirates. Few words conjure up more dramatic, terrifying, and yet oddly romantic images than pirates. They captured the imagination of Robert Lewis Stevenson, J.M. Barrie, Walt Disney, and many others. I even used pirates in my Regency Romance Novel, The Guise of a Gentleman, book 2 of the Rogue Hearts series. But what is it, exactly that makes a pirate both the perfect villain and the perfect hero?

When I was a child, one of my favorite rides at Disneyland was “The Pirates of the Caribbean. I loved Peter Pan, Treasure Island, and any other pirate story I found. The Pirates of the Caribbean movie made millions with fans divided between Captain Jack Sparrow and Will, who pretty much turned pirate to save Elizabeth. When my husband and I were in Las Vegas, we went to the (then) new Treasure Island Hotel which used to (maybe still does?) put on a great show outside with a reenactment of the navy battling pirates. When the pirates defeated the navy, everybody cheered. Including me.

Are we all a bunch of sociopaths?

Nah. I think it goes back to the bad boy allure. They were non-conformists. They had the courage to buck the system. They wore blousy white shirts instead of those stuffy coats and ugly hats and white powdered wigs. They were totally free to go where ever they pleased and do anything they wanted. And they had the money to do it, thanks to the plunder they took. In the case of Las Vegas, the pirate captain was hunky and drop dead gorgeous, which never hurts.

We think of pirates as swashbuckling hunks who carried big curved swords, although having an eye patch and a parrot on the shoulder never hurts. Not to mention a certain allure in a map with an X that marks the spot to buried wealth. Maybe we all secretly wish we could steal from the rich, throw social norms out the window and make our enemies walk the plank.

It’s really just a fantasy. Most real pirates are nothing like the men in the stories.
TheGuiseofaGentleman_432
While researching for The Guise of a Gentleman, I discovered that pirates were first and foremost sailors. They had a hard life and faced many dangers. They also preyed upon any ship that had the misfortune of crossing their path. Then, they’d go to a nearby port and waste their money. They also often ransacked towns, tortured men, and ravished women. And they were notorious slave traders. Not very glamorous, is it?

After studying real life pirates like Black Beard, Calico Jack, and others, I decided pirates make better villains than heroes. They were for the most part, ruthless and unconscionable. Yet, I still cheered for Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner. And in truth, some real pirates really were good men caught in difficult circumstances.

In my novel, I created a fictional problem of having a lot of out of work sailors and captains of privateer ships now that the Napoleonic War was over, so some turned to piracy and created a pirate ring led by a peer of the realm. The hero, Jared Amesbury, is a government agent assigned to to become a pirate in order to infiltrate the ring and expose the leader.

So enjoy the fantasy about pirates. And “Argh, matey! Don’ forgit yer sword!”

The Guise of a Gentleman, book 2 of the Rogue Hearts series, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold.

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).

Intertwining Fantasy and History

evening gown 1819A little while ago, some authors were basically bashing “ballroom Regencies” where there are so many young, handsome, single dukes, and lords–all of whom fall in love with a captivating heroine–that England could not possibly have contained all of them. I don’t see the problem. Each author’s world is her (or his) own existing in different planes independent from one another. The idea that we should all write about “real” people facing real problems, is just as ridiculous that we should all write mysteries, or contemporary novels, or non-fiction.

I celebrate the diverse genres and I adore “ballroom Regencies” that take place amid the glittering lives of English nobility because I like the fantasy element–it’s pure escapism from my ordinary life.

However historical accuracy’s importance, (and something for which I strive while writing every story) the main reason why readers love to read is to relax and escape the stresses of their lives. Many Regency readers cite wanting to enjoy a glamorous life vicariously through the eyes of the characters of a book. Historical romances are a magical way to wear beautiful gowns, get help with clothes and hair from a maid, attract the notice of a gorgeous gentleman (or even a titled lord), explore the beauties of historical settings, and fall in love–all without leaving the real world. Reading about the result of people’s poor bathing habits (something more and more people changed during the Regency, thank goodness) bad teeth, bills piling up, not having enough money, and the drudgery of everyday life too closely mirrors real life to be a complete escape. True, the falling in love aspect is fun and something one can achieve with any romance novel, but “ballroom Regencies” offer a beautiful combination of historical truth, mingled liberally with a fantasy element few other genres offer.

Longleat House

Longleat House

Ordinary people in real life are often unsung heroes who quietly uplift and improve their own corner of the universe, and I don’t mean in any way to demean their contribution. But the adventurer and romantic in me seeks something larger than life. How else, but through literature, can I explore an English manor house or castle? How can I don a tailored riding habit and ride side-saddle over the English countryside in a fox hunt or steeple chase? How can I sail on a schooner or frigate and battle pirates while exchanging smiles with a gorgeous sea captain? How else can I flirt and dance and exchange witty banter with a handsome duke? Historical romance, and in particular,”ballroom Regencies,” offer these adventures all set in the backdrop of the elegant, glamorous, fantastic world of the English beau monde.

galleonBy combining these settings with the human elements of good people trying to do the right things for the right reasons, I feel that I have found the best of both worlds. I hope you enjoy those journeys with me.

 

 

Carriage Accidents Cliche?

WLA_nyhistorical_Beekman_Family_Coachby Donna Hatch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Spotlight on author Jennifer Bryce

Today my spotlight is author Jennifer Bryce and her very first published book, Haley’s Song. This romance is squeaky clean, with a courageous heroine and a dreamy hero.

I thought I had first met Jennifer at a writer’s conference when she sought me out upon the recommendation of a mutual writer friend to get help editing her first book. But she later reminded me that we had met about ten years before; she’d done my hair when I’d moved to her town. (Jenn has a much better memory than I do.) But my family only lived there about six months, so we’d only had a few chances to talk when she’d worked on my hair (and a fabulous job she did, too).  Anyway, years later, we met again and I made suggestions on how she could improve her book. Jennifer worked really hard on revisions, submited to a publisher, got a contract offer, and now her first book is available.

In Haley’s Song, the stakes are high, the heroine is smart and brave, the hero is as likable as he is realistic, and there is a full cast of fun, quirky characters. It has a vintage, wild west feel to it. Here is more info:

Big Haley's SongSynopsis:
Hayley’s father has a gambling problem that’s now become hers. He lost her in a bet. Now, she must either leave the only place she’s ever known or marry a brute who is only interested in a servant he can control.

On the run and scared, she finds sanctuary at a ranch with seven men and one little boy. Though hired as a cook and nanny, she quickly realizes she’s found a home. With brothers, Ben and Tate, vying for her affections, Hayley starts to believe she can have a life that doesn’t involve alcohol, abuse, and gambling. But the winner of the card game has other plans.

Ed Thompson tracks Hayley down, determined she’s going to become his wife. But Tate isn’t about to allow that to happen. He’ll move whatever mountain he has to for Hayley’s safety. And when she’s kidnapped, he’ll tear the town apart to find her. But Ed has an ace up his sleeve that could end up getting Hayley killed.

Here is a short excerpt from Haley’s Song:

“Hey Gummy, how did you get your name?” Curiosity pushed her to ask as she helped Johnny sit next to her on the bench. She expected him to say it was because he always chewed gum.

“I’m a natural born scrapper as a lad and got into plenty of fights.  Once when a fight was in full swing, my gum came out of my mouth and stuck in my hair. The name Gummy ‘stuck.’” The jack of all trades chuckled. “You’re a scrapper like me. We can handle a little opposition.”

About The Author

Jen BryceJennifer has a brain that is never quiet (even in her sleep). She uses writing as an escape to be and do anything she can create. Plotting is her favorite thing to do in her down time. Raised in southern Arizona, she was influenced by being raised a cop’s daughter (plenty of teenage angst material there), Mexican food, and the old West. She is a busy mother to three rambunctious boys, is married to her amazing cowboy, she’s  a full-time nursing student, and she desperately needs a long vacation. Her biggest fear in life is to be completely mediocre.

Author Social Media links:

Facebook: Author Jennifer Bryce

BlogSpot: jenniferbryce.blogspot.com

Twitter: @JenniferBryce1

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Release Day!

My new Regency romance short story, A Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance is available 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, is available in digital format everywhere ebooks are sold.

Remember, books make great gifts! 🙂

Book giveaway

0708142138Before I became an author, I was a reader. Still am. I read all kinds of books–historical, fantasy, young adult, inspirational, science fiction, paranormal, and others.  My favorite books are historical, specifically historical romance, but I like my novels “sweet,” meaning, without swear words or sex scenes. Finding books that don’t have those can be tricky. However, there are some authors that I know will always be clean.

Recently, I moved my office into a different room and got it all arranged. As I did so, I went through a bunch of paperback books on my bookshelf and realized I had more books than I needed. Since there are very few books that I ever read a second time, I decided to give a few of them away. They are all clean or sweet romances. The authors of the books I’m giving away are: Shirley Kennedy, Regina Scott, Janet Dean, and Melanie Dickerson. If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please tell me what is your favorite historical era  in the Rafflecopter below.

You have more chances to win if you follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter.

I will contact you via email to ask for your address so I can mail the books to you.

Sorry, due to the high cost of mailing a box internationally, not to mention the time involved, this contest is only open to the U.S. and Canada.
a Rafflecopter giveaway