Regency England through the Eyes of Romance Author Donna Hatch

Donna at Buckingham Palace Gate

                                             Tower Bridge

As many of you know, I recently spent three weeks in England. I walked all over a part of London known as Mayfair, studied buildings and architecture, and visited parks and locations of historical interest during the Georgian and Regency Era. I have such a better idea of Regency Mayfair, and how my characters would live, work, play, and travel. I also visited a bit more modern sites such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the famous Town Bridge. Okay, those aren’t truly modern–they are Victorian–but they came after the Regency so they are modern in my eyes. The Regency Tour offered by Number One London Tours, with Kristine Patrone was fantastic and I really benefitted from Kristine’s knowledge of England in general and English history in particular.

                                   Windsor Castle moat gardens

During the Regency Tour, we left London to tour the extraordinary Windsor Castle. I could live there. Yep, I totally could 😉 Words are inadequate for how beautiful that castle is and how fitting it is to house a royal family when they are able to go there. I saw a cluster of guards marching in perfect formation but didn’t get a photograph of them. I just love the rich traditions the English have! Photographs are not allowed inside Windsor Castle so I put away my camera and just enjoyed the beauty. A tour guide (?) inside one of the rooms that got burned down in 1992 gave me detailed information about the fire and showed me photos of rooms before the fire, just after the fire, and the restoration process. You can read more about the fire here. Great before and after photos of one of the restored rooms are here. I also enjoyed the queen’s dollhouse–it was so cute and I love miniatures. The castle is absolutely magnificent! The garden in the moat is especially charming.

                                            St. George’s Chapel

St. George’s Chapel inside Windsor left me almost speechless. I felt such a reverence and respect for those who built it and for the generations who worshiped there. An organ performance added to the overall beauty. I saw the beautiful and poignant tomb of Princess Charlotte, who died in 1817 during childbirth. I teared up looking at the statue of her grief-stricken ladies in waiting while her body lay lifeless. Overhead,  her spirit ascended with angels–one of them carrying her baby. The tomb beautifully retold  pain, loss, and yet hope of death and the life after. Photos weren’t allowed in the church but you can see images of the tomb here. The church itself was intricately crafted and exquisite!

We had lunch in Eaton on the river. I enjoyed the beautiful weather and watching the queen’s swans swim in the river. Yes, they are hers and yes, they are all accounted for annually in the “swan upping” when they gather, tag, and count the swans. The swan upping would be fun to watch, wouldn’t it?

                                  Prince George’s Brighton Pavilion

Later in the week during the Regency Tour, we took a train to Brighton to view the impressive but ostentatious Brighton Pavilion that Prince George (sometimes referred to unkindly as “Prinny” and who later became King George IV) had built. It was known as his Pleasure Palace. He had wild parties there in his early rakish days and kinda hid out there later on as his weight and behavior made him an object of social scorn.

I’ll blog more about the rest of my trip in snippets for probably months (years?) to come. But what did I learn on this Regency Tour? Regency London is smaller than I thought. Members of the aristocracy could have walked most places on a nice day. They probably all knew each other, too–at least, those who were lucky enough to be included in the beau monde and who frequented London. The architecture was fantastic. I was constantly amazed at the detailed craftsmanship done all by hand. I also learned in an even more profound way how different the lives were for people depending on their social status. We think it’s that way now, but the differences were so huge two hundred year ago that they hardly lived in the same world. Also, Englanders have a profound pride in their country, their culture, their traditions and history, and their monarchy. They have problems too, but that doesn’t seem to sway their love of king and country. The English truly are lovely and brilliant, aren’t they? 😀

I was fascinated–okay, obsessed–about Regency England before, but this trip has flamed that even more. If I didn’t miss my family so much, I would have had a much harder time leaving ancient and beautiful England and returning to the US.  Good thing I live in the Pacific Northwest now and am no longer in the Arizona desert! At least it’s green where I live. Now, if only I can put a formal garden in my backyard…

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.

 

 

Chocolate Giveaway

Milk Chocolate Reindeer Lollipop (Set of 3)Reviews on Amazon are crucial for helping readers “find” authors.  Most people probably don’t think to leave a review for a book they liked.  So I am asking you for a review.

And I’m willing to offer an incentive, or a bribe, or whatever you want to call it. 

If you’ve read one of my books and honestly loved (or liked) it, please leave a review on Amazon and post the link to it in the Rafflecopter below to enter your name in a drawing for these cute Godiva chocolate reindeer pictured above, in your choice of light or dark chocolate.  (Due to shipping restrictions, this drawing is open to US and Canada residents  ONLY.) You may leave a review on Amazon for as many of my books as you wish, simply leave the link to the review for every book you review and your name goes in an additional time.

If you review my newest book, A Perfect Secret, you get double credit for reviewing it.A Perfect Secret

If you haven’t read any of my novels or short stories but you’d like to so you can be included in the drawing, send an email to me at donnahatch29@gmail.com, put “Mistletoe Magic for a Review” in the subject line, and I’ll send you a code to get a digital copy of my sweet Regency romance short story, Mistletoe Magic, for free. Once you’ve read it, you can review it.

If have not yet read my newest full-length book, A Perfect Secret, but you’re willing to read it and give it an honest review, I’ll give you a coupon to buy a digital copy at a 33% discount.  Just send me an email to the same email address and put “Perfect Secret 33% Discount” in the subject line.

Hurry! This drawing expires in one week, December 17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If for some reason you can’t enter the Rafflecopter, leave your review link in the comments section below and I’ll make sure you’re  entered.

No purchase necessary.

Due to shipping restrictions, this drawing is open to US and Canada residents  ONLY.

Void where prohibited.

 

The UnVeiling

I’m so excited about my new cover for a re-release of my first Regency Romance Novel, The Stranger She Married! So, of course, I just had to share the artwork for the book cover.  Lex Valentine of Winter Heart Designs did this cover and I just love it.  So without further ado, here it is…Ta-da!!

TheStrangerSheMarried 2013

 

Isn’t it totally gorgeous and stunning and eye catching? I love it!!! And I hope readers do, too.

TheStrangerSheMarried_w945_300This was my old cover shown to the right, but since I’d gotten back the rights for The Stranger She Married in preparation to edit and re-release the novel, I needed a new cover. And that was fine, because I never really loved the cover anyway. It’s fine, but it isn’t clear that this is a romance, much less a historical romance, and I wanted my new cover to clearly proclaim this book is a historical romance.

The new and improved cover shown above went through a few versions before we come up with the final product. My primary objective was to show clearly that this is a historical romance, and I wanted it to reflect my writing style which has a few sensory-rich kissing scenes and a clear awareness of each other on an elementally physical level, but no “on-screen” sex scenes, so no sexy or erotic image, but nothing too sterile, either. I do, after all, have at least one hot kissing scene in every story. I also wanted the models to fit the characters’ descriptions in the book.TheStrangerSheMarried mock up -- Jimmy

The first mock up Lex gave me, (shown to the right) although lovely, is too sexy for my style. I love the layout — it is exactly what I wanted. Also, I love the English country house and the lake and the bridge. It does a great job of showing that it is at least an English historical novel, even if it’s not clear that it’s a Regency Romance. And I like that the female model is pretty but not beautiful, which is just how I describe Alicia in the book. The models also have the right hair color. And I love the guy who is cover model Jimmy Thomas. Yes, he’s gorgeous and yes, I’ve had a slight crush on him since I met him three years ago. I had to just stare at his  picture a few minutes and let out a big sigh.

However, I am afraid this cover would make my current readers, many of whom are either crossover Inspirational Romance readers or hard-core sweet romance readers, uncomfortable. I also feared new readers would mis-interpret what they were getting in my book based on the cover. Jimmy having his shirt mostly off would scare off those looking for a sweeter read, and those expecting and wanting a hotter read would be disappointed when they read my story. Also, and less importantly, the overall color theme is little too pastel for my taste, and the heroine has on a bonnet I don’t like. So I had Lex try again to get something less suggestive but would still clearly show that this is a Regency Historical Romance novel.

The second picture she sent me to consider for the cover is also beautiful–it has the same two models who have the right appearance, and the heroine has her bonnet off which I like, but again, Jimmy’s shirt is mostly off so it is still too sensual for the story and for my overall style of writing.  I knew this imagewould scare off my sweet romance readers and my inspirational cross-over readers.  So I had her try again. I knew finding the right stock photos would be hard but I didn’t realize quite how hard!

The third mock up (shown to the left) is almost perfect.TheStrangerSheMarried (3rd go around) It has a beautiful historical fee and I love the grand, sweeping staircase behind them.  The heroine’s dress isn’t a true Regency-style gown, and I worry a little that some of my most prudish readers will balk at the sight of her slightly-off-the-shoulder gown, and I know the model’s gown isn’t even closely resembling a Regency woman’s attire, but I decided to keep this picture because we were having such a hard time finding models who fit the characters’ descriptions, wearing historical clothing AND were fully clothed, that I decided to sacrifice the historical accuracy of her gown (and risk the woman’s bare shoulder) in favor of everything else. Most historical romance readers wouldn’t know or care that her dress is wrong anyway (except for the few that are very well versed in Regency attire, like other Regency authors), and hopefully no one will think this cover is anything too sensual. If they do, I’ll have to just be polite and silently remind myself that it’s impossible to please everyone.

Honestly, I chose this photo largely due to the male model–he just looks so much like the way I’d pictured Cole that I just had to have it. And okay, I admit it, I also chose it because I was absolutely enraptured with the male model, sorta like an instant crush.  He’s just so….Cole.

I had Lex modify the colors–I feel there is too much brown, so I asked her to make the landscape more green and make the banner more red which is how we ended up with the final produce shown at the top of the blog.

Below and to the right is the full-sized stock photo of just the two of them. Gorgeous, isn’t it? As you can see, the female model in this photo is blond, but Lex changed it to a lovey shade of brown to more closely fit the description of the heroine, Alicia.

Cover art for the Stranger She Married--Cole

I have re-edited The Stranger She Married (which was originally published in 2008 by The Wild Rose Press), making minor changes such as fixing typos, powering up some wimpy verbs, fixing minor historical inaccuracies (such as changing hallway and hall to corridor or passageway) and so forth. It is being proofed now, and as soon as I get back all the proofs and make any needed changes, The Stranger She Married will be back in circulation in digital format. The Stranger She Married, Book 1 of the Rogue Heart Series, is still available in print with the old cover, but I hope to have the newly revised book with the new cover available in print a few weeks after it’s released in ebook format.

So if you’re looking for a sweet Regency Romance novel with a couple of hot kissing scenes but no sex scenes and no bad language, a touch of intrigue, a spunky heroine, a to-die for hero, and a happily ever after, stay tuned…I’ll be announcing the release of The Stranger She Married very soon.

Out with the old and in with the new

Good news! Two of my old books are being re-edited, getting new covers, and will be re-released very soon. How soon, I don’t know just yet, but I hope The Stranger She Married will be back in circulation within the next few weeks. At least that’s the plan. Oh, and I’ve made a few minor changes to it, so if you’ve already read it, you might enjoy seeing what I’ve changed. The second book in the series, The Guise of a Gentleman, will be out a few weeks or so later. And a few weeks after that, Christian’s long-awaited story, A Perfect Secret will be released for the very first time.

I’m sorry that my novels are currently out of print–when they were pulled, it all happened much faster than expected–but hang in there; they will be back, better than ever, very soon. Stay tuned. I hope to have more concrete release dates shortly.

In the meantime, congratulations to my two winners, Rebecca Lamoreaux and Lisa Crandall , this week’s drawing winners of a print version of my anthology, Regency Hearts.