New Inspirational Regency ~ Mystery of the Heart ~ Win the book!

Author Jillian KentWe are so pleased to once more welcome Jillian Kent to Regency Reflections. Her latest release, Mystery of the Heart, is the last of the Ravensmoore Chronicles books. The love story of these two strong-willed individuals is wrapped in adventure involving a foreign religion, an expensive artifact, and Jillian’s vast knowledge and love of the historic practice of medicine.

Be sure to leave a comment after reading the interview for a chance of winning a copy of Mystery of the Heart. And now give a warm Regency Reflections welcome to Jillian Kent!

Last time you were here, you told us about Chameleon. When is this book set and how is it linked to your previous one? 

I’m thrilled to be back here with the lovely ladies from Regency Reflections. Thanks for inviting me back. Mystery of the Heart begins in Northumberland, England in 1819 and primarily takes place in London. It’s the third book in my Ravensmoore Chronicle series and also the last book. This is Devlin’s youngest sister’s story and it will take you on an adventure similar to what you might experience in an Indiana Jones movie but more romantic.

Was there any fun fact about the Regency period that you stumbled upon while researching this book? Any tidbit that sparked your imagination and inspired a plot point of cool character moment? 

Yes. I discovered that the Royal College of Physicians had burnt down prior to the one that was rebuilt and present in my story. Via Wikipedia, “The College was based at Amen Corner near St Paul’s Cathedral, until it was burnt down in the Great Fire of London of 1666. The first Harveian Librarian was Christopher Merret.

Mystery Of The HeartBoth Mystery of the Heart and your previous book Chameleon contain a great deal about period medicine. What sort of struggles did you face writing about two hundred year medical practices in such a way that modern day readers would be able to accept them?

The most difficult thing is making sure the research is accurate and then tell it in an interesting way that makes readers wonder how people in that day and age survived, if in fact they did. I also have thirty-three years of social work experience in psychiatric hospitals, medical hospitals and out-patient facilities. I’ve worked as a counselor for nursing students for the past 17 years in a hospital based college so I’m around medical stuff all the time. I hope I have a knack for pulling readers into the medical practices of the day that keeps them coming back for more. I think it’s fascinating. Maybe that’s why readers accept the telling of those medical practices.

What is your favorite thing about your hero, Lord Eden?

I love his adventurous spirit. He’s not a man to stay in any one place long. He wants to be on the go, but after his journey to Austria he’s tired. And when he returns to England it’s one adventure after another and that includes falling in love with Mercy and dealing with her over protective family.

What drew you to your heroine, Lady Mercy Grayson?

Mercy is the most independent of the women in my three stories. She’s seen and experienced a lot including caring for her sister, Victoria as she was growing up. Then when her brother refused to give up his desire to be a physician when he inherited his estate she desperately wanted to find a way to contribute to society that made use of her talents.

Without giving away some of the key plot points of the book, can you share a little about the vodun that play such a large part in the book?

Interesting that you asked. I never had any desire to write about vodun until I was going through the typical brainstorming phase of getting ready to write the novel. And of course it wasn’t until I sat down and wrote that the men on the ship with Eden took on an entirely different role than what I’d planned and it just kind of bloomed from there. I really think I must have been influenced by all the zombie books and stories I’d been hearing that others were writing. Most probably because my mentor, James Scott Bell, was writing zombie legal thrillers. What a hoot! Zombies and voodoo always seemed to go together. Just goes to show how we writers can come up with strange ideas and make them work to our stories advantage.

What can we look forward to next from you? 

I have an idea for a new book and possibly another series that I am running past my agent. I can tell you that it is set during the regency. I’d also like to write some short stories as an addition to The Ravensmoore Chronicles and sell them as e-shorts. I’m thinking of a Christmas story set at Ravensmoore and a short about how Lazarus was found.

Where else on the web can our readers find you? 

www.JillianKent.com
JillianKent.blogspot.com
JustTheWriteCharisma.blogspot.com
Twitter @JillKentAuthor
www.facebook.com/JillianKent
www.ChristianFictionOnlineMagazine.com

Thank you for being here, Jillian! I would also like to thank Charisma for an advance copy of the book.

Want to win your own copy of Mystery of the Heart? Leave a comment below letting us know what you find fascinating about the medical practice 200 years ago or how much you’re looking forward to reading Jillian’s book. You must live within the United States to win. Entries will be accepted through Saturday, February 2, 2013.

The contest is now closed, but you can still purchase Jillian’s book and enjoy her story!

Curing the Cough and Soothing the Sniffles

Kristi here. If your home is anything like mine, there have been plenty of sniffs and snuffles passing through this winter. The headaches, congestion, and overall achiness can range everywhere from the annoyance of the common cold to the seriousness of pneumonia.

Today, we know the difference between the flu and a cold, bronchitis and a sinus infection,  and a tension migraine and a sinus headache. Or at least, our doctor knows the difference and can help us with the right concoction of pills and vitamins to get us through the discomfort.

The suffering Regency inhabitant was not so fortunate.

Treatment Page from Cookbook
Beginning of the treatment section of a cookbook

The scientific study of medicine was just coming into existence as the Regency rolled around. Knowledge of germs and nutrition and the importance of cleanliness were mere inklings of ideas in the heads of the most advanced medical minds of the time. And these men (for they were almost exclusively men) were often scoffed at for their new ideas and practices.

Because medicine was still working to organize and legitimize itself, healthcare fell on the shoulders of the people, or more specifically the women. Cookbooks of the day would contain recipes for home remedies that could be mixed or cooked to aid the ailing.Mothers would also pass down time-honored practices for various diseases, leaving people at the time with a mix of rudimentary science, folk remedy, and medieval traditions. Physicians were so rare and costly that one had to be very rich or near death to call upon one.

So how did they handle the fevers and the sniffles?

Woman sick in bed reading
Michael Ancher, via Wikimedia Commons

Without decongestants and pain relievers, they were forced to take to their beds for however long it took the body to overcome the bacteria or virus. Because many congestion related disorders were thought to be brought on by cold or damp conditions, sick rooms were often kept warm and dry, with little to no air circulation.

The old axiom “Feed a cold, starve a fever” was also prescribed to, with some ailing patients being restricted to diets of bread and water in the hopes of purging the bodies of the disease.

Some households would have knowledge of herbs and be able to ease the pain with concoctions of willow bark tea while others preferred to drink themselves into oblivion until the worst of the illness had passed.

Other interesting treatments of the time included inducing copious amounts of sweating, stuffing orange rinds up the nose, and colonic irrigation, or cleansing of the bowels.

The second half of the 1800s showed the beginnings of the cold remedies that resemble what we see today. While medicines involving heroin and chloroform have been eradicated, the Vicks Vapour Rub introduced in 1890 is still pretty much the same.

Want to learn more about the history of medicine in England? Check out the online museum from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. You can link directly to the paper on the common cold here.

Be sure to come back Wednesday, when Jillian Kent will be here at Regency Reflections sharing about her latest book, Mystery of the Heart, which incorporates the quickly changing field of medicine during the Regency time period. Stop by and enter to win a copy of her book.

Other sources used for this article include All Things Austen: An Encyclopedia of Austen’s World, The House-keeper’s Pocketbook, and Compleat Family CookLiveStrong.com, and DukeHealth.org.

My Year with Miss Austen

The winter months can be rough. According to a New York Times article from a few years back, it is likely that four out of five of us won’t keep our New Year’s Resolutions through January. Forbes.com states that nine out of ten of us go about making a resolution in the wrong way, thus spelling trouble for achieving our goals in the new year. And alas, Health.com tells us that less than half of us (a mere 46%) will still be on target with our New Year’s Resolutions after the six month mark has passed.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read a Regency Era novel each month in 2013. (Think “Kristy’s Regency Book Club” for one.) So with all of this gloom and doom predicted around resolutions in the first month of the year, what’s a gal to do? I’m following the advice from Forbes.com and will be looking for small lifestyle changes to add a little Regency into each day. Care to join?

Here’s how I plan to enjoy the Regency in 2013, one month at a time:

Austenland 2
Keri Russel (Jane Hayes) and JJ Field (Mr. Henry Nobley), in Austenland (2013)

JANUARY: Austenland

Based on the book of the same title by author Shannon Hale, Austenland has been generating a lot of buzz this month at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. While Sony Pictures Worldwide has yet to issue an official release date, publicity for the film has increased in the first month of the year. In fact, Sundance screenings of the film have completely sold out – indicating that Jane’s appeal is just as real today as it was when Pride and Prejudice was first published 200 years ago. [Austenland – Desertnews.com LINK]

FEBRUARY: The Other Kind of Romanticism

February, Valentine’s Day, and romance… they tend to all go together, right? But the romance we associate with this month isn’t the same Romanticism. The Regency Era fell in the middle of the Romanticism movement, which saw its high point from the end of the 18th century to the first part of the 19th century. The movement ushered in a renewed focus on the arts and sciences, particularly those of the natural world, and a moving away of classical (Greco-Roman) themes in art and literature. [Romanticism LINK]

MARCH:  What to Read… That is the Question.

If that’s the question, then we aim to answer it here at Regency Reflections.  We’ve compiled a list of current books available from our authors. And if you come back soon, we’ll have updates on upcoming releases posted throughout the year.  (You’re most welcome!) Ruth Axtell    Linore Rose Burkard    Laurie Alice Eakes   Sarah Ladd    Mary Moore    Naomi Rawlings

APRIL:  What Did She Just Say?

So you don’t know a ha’penny from a farthing? Is a livery a stable or a piece of clothing? And just where is Grosvenor Square? Never fear. We’re here to help. Particularly if you’re new to Regency Era fiction, you might find that some assistance with the language is in order. We cordially invite you to partake of the information in the links below, so that you might brush up on your skills with the language. (After all, who wants to be accused of being a ninny or a fop when it comes to Regency terminology? [Regency Glossary, JaneAusten.org  Glossary]

Regency dress
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MAY: I’ll Take Season Etiquette for 100

It may sound a bit like Jeopardy, but there’s a lot to know about the Regency social season. From the ball to the proper time to call, one could certainly make a social faux pas if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s essential to know your stuff. The London Season coincided with what? Which month signaled the official start of the “season”? And low neck dresses and short sleeves were reserved for what time of day? If you want to make sure you fare well on the Marriage Mart then do your research, ladies! [The London Season – LINK, Jane Austen Centre – Regency Fashion LINK]

 

JUNE:  Inspiration, Please

Here at Regency Reflections, we live and breathe writing good stories that our readers will love. While similar to fiction you’ve probably read before, there’s one additional component woven into an inspirational book – a story steeped in a journey with Christ. When you’re looking for a good Regency story to read by a roaring fire, we hope you find comfort in knowing that your story will be encouraging to your Christian walk as well as entertaining to your heart. [For your reading pleasure: Amazon – LINK, Barnes and Noble – LINK]

JULY: The Jane Austen Festival, Your Hometown, USA

The Jane Austen Centre at Bath is set to celebrate their annual festival in honor of the authoress this April (and in which they’ll celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice). But if you don’t think you’ll make it to the UK this year, then The Jane Austen Society of North America may have a celebration you could attend a little closer to home. With over 70 regional groups across the continental US and Canada, chances are there is a chapter a stone’s throw from your back yard. [Find your local chapter here – LINK]

RR 3
The Jane Austen Centre, Bath (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

AUGUST: Happy Birthday, Georgette!

Born in this month in 1902 (d. 1974), British author Georgette Heyer is beloved by historical romance readers both for her charming characters and rich settings that are reminiscent of Miss Austen’s Regency world. But Georgette is not alone in her book writing genius! Other beloved authors of the genre: Marion Chesney (M.C. Beaton), Julia Quinn, Patricia Veryan, Dawn Lindsay and Debra Raleigh. So if you’ve not ventured far beyond Jane’s novels but you’re drawn to the genre, you might pick up a Regency romance written by one of these authors. [Georgette’s books – LINK]

SEPTEMBER:  Celebrate the Empire Waist!

Now that I know what to read, how to speak, and where to go to celebrate the Regency, this gal needs a dress! There are lots of resources out there to find the right period dress – whether you’re looking to buy or to make your own. A couple of sites that celebrate Regency fashion are listed below. [Elegance of Fashion blog – LINK; Sense and Sensibility PatternsLINK]

OCTOBER:  Write It Down

Whether you are an avid reader or a would-be author, journaling is a classic way to learn more about yourself (or in this case, the Regency). Find out what other writers have essayed on the subject in the annual Jane Austen Journal. [The Jane Austen JournalLINK]

NOVEMBER: It’s Cold. I Want a Warm Fire and a Good Movie.

Enough said, right? Here’s a list of must-see films. (Caution: This list may cause one to spend insane amounts of money on Regency entertainment. We are not responsible if your spouse questions your spending habits!) [Your fabulous link to classic romance: LINK ]

DECEMBER:  I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

For those of you that are fond of entertainment news, you’ll know that the start of a new year sparks excitement for the Hollywood awards season. But for writers, the new year ushers in a season of another kind, and that’s contest season. December is the perfect time to begin thinking about polishing that new manuscript, or even writing something new and submitting it for a contest. So put on your dinner dress or cravat, walk on stage and prepare to accept your award! [JASNA 2013 Essay Contest, Romance Writers of America (RWA) Contests, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Contests]

And there you have it – a full year of super-simple (but  delightfully amiable) tips to incorporate your love of the Christian Regency into your daily routine. Because as we know, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you make New Year’s Resolutions next year, you’ll have a whole new outlook if you were able to conquer them the year before.

In His Love,

Kristy

 

Old Lovers, Make-Me-Love-You Heroes, and Marriages of Convenience

Vanessa here, opining for love.

I found a bit of time to read this weekend. For me, that would be a Regency novel. Obvious huh. As I looked at my two-decade-old collection, I started thinking about the types of plots I really love. Three stood out: Old Lovers, Make-Me-Love-You Heroes, and Marriages of Convenience.

Old Lovers

While I enjoy the whole “find a stranger/ love a stranger” aspect of most novels, the Old Lovers: loved once, love lost, love regained, really appeals to me. I recently finished Flight of Fancy, and the richness of the history between Cassandra Bainbridge and the Earl of Whittaker makes the story. It adds a subtle tension through the whole book, causing even mundane actions like Whitaker walking away from Cassandra to contemplate banging his head against the window in frustration, sexy.  I wouldn’t feel his pain, if I didn’t know how long he’s loved her and his confusion of how to win her back. I wouldn’t sigh as I see Cassandra noticing Whittaker leaning against the window and noting he’s not gangly any more but well-set, all man now. Hubba Hubba.

And I’ll say it.  You can’t get away with “Lessman” like passion starting on page 1 with strangers, unless of course, this is a bodice ripper Regency, but we don’t write that here.  🙂

On my radar to read, Mary Moore’s Beauty in Disguise.  Seems that old lovers, Lady Katryn and Lord Dalton have a story to tell in the woods.

The Make-Me-Love-You Hero

What is a make-me-love you hero?  This is an intelligent swarthy hero with a smidge of alpha-male arrogance. I know what you’re saying. “Arrogance, really Vanessa. I don’t want to read about a stuck-up hero. ”

Let me explain. Yes, a touch of arrogance is a requirement. It causes him to be deluded into believing he alone can save the heroine from all her woes. This adds to his fall or black moment.  It changes him forever. It will make his “somewhat loose bond to God” stronger, more personal, more real.

Oh, he must also be smothered in a big dollop of humor, particularly, self-deprecating humor.  It’s a rare combination like a handcrafted tea, but when you find him, you’ll drink him in, reading him over and over again.

And it goes without saying, he must be romantic. I need him to whisk me off my feet and carry me to safety after he bests the footpads. He should whisper sweet Latin or poetry or verses penned by Solomon in my ear to soothe my nerves.  Then at the right moment, his rough knuckles will traverse my jaw, tipping my chin to the right angle to kiss me ’til I nearly faint. Or at least he’d want to but his gentlemanly manners prevented it.

Who are these men? You’ve met them: Mr. Knightly (though he needs more humor) of Emma, Mr. Darcy (after he falls for Elizabeth) of Pride and Prejudice, Dominick Cherrett (from start to finish) of Lady in the Mist, Adam Drake of A Proper Marriage(Zebra-Traditional Regency), and  Justain Delveaux of Madeline’s Protector (Ok, you’ll get to meet him in April).  There are so many more that I can’t do this post justice.

Sigh, sorry I was in my happy place thinking of these heroes, back to Regency Reflections. P.S. please comment with more Make-Me-Love-You Regency heroes. I need to add to my bucket list.

On my Radar: Major Gerrit Hawkes of the Rogue’s Redemption. I hear he’s a naughty guy turned good by the love of a good woman and a good God.

Marriage of Convenience

As I said before finding love with a stranger can be stirring. Nonetheless, having to marry said stranger before you knew you loved him is positively fascinating. The idea of marrying a stranger is probably making you cringe. This complete loss of control in a matter of the heart would lead to many hours of prayer and/or counseling. Yet, did you know that the average divorce rate of arranged marriages is 6%1?  Did you know the average divorce rate amongst Christians (those who regularly attend church) is 38%, 60% for Christians who don’t attend church regularly 2. So let’s not scoff at these marriages based upon factors other than love.

Let Me Explain What a (Regency) Marriage of Convenience is and What it is Not.

A marriage of convenience is a real marriage, not a fake one. It must be officiated like every other marriage, with licenses, banns, etc. In Regency times, these were marriages for life. There is no “let’s get married” for a few years and then divorce. As a matter of fact, there is practically no divorce. Unless the husband continually cheated with the wife’s sister to the point the wife could not forgive him and was constantly reminded of the infidelity, Parliament saw no reason to grant a divorce. Thus, divorces were extremely rare in England since it had to be sanctioned by Parliament.

There was such a thing as a Church Divorce. This was not a legal divorce but a separation ordained by the church. This did not dissolve the marriage or allow someone to marry another. It was just a civilized way to separate.  Women needed to be particularly careful in this situation. The husband could keep custody of the children, as it was his right to decide where the minors would live.  He could prevent her from ever seeing them. Under a Church Divorce, the husband could do the bare minimum to provide for the wife. Again not a good situation for the wife.

A marriage of convenience did not have to involve a compromised party. It might just be convenient. I truly love, when a hero accidentally or purposely compromises the heroine and is now forced to save her (and his) honor(s) and must marry the heroine. Yet, this is just one contrivance. They may decide to marry to fulfill the requirements for an inheritance, to join lands, to protect the heroine, a parent’s dying wish, or an overly complex and contrived plot.  Many reasons, just not for love.

A marriage of convenience does not mean no nookie. This was a real marriage with a marriage bed. As Hebrews 13:4 says, “The Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.”  So if the parties are inclined or they needed an heir…. Well, you get the picture.

Alas, most of my favorite Marriage of Convenience stories are found in the old  traditional Regencies (Inspy’s we need more of these): The earl and countess of Sanborn in the Perfect Mistress (Bantam), the  earl and countess Faulconer of A Convenient Marriage (Zebra), the earl and countess of Slenford of The Earl’s Mistaken Bride (Love Inspired).

On my radar, Marriage of Inconvenience by Cheryl Bolen.  Is the practical marriage of the Earl and Countess of Ansley doomed or just beginning? I’m going to have to find out.

References

  1. UNICEF, Human Rights Council, ABC News, 8/12/2012
  2. Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.

How Else to Entertain a Houseguest

Laurie Alice here: While working on my next Regency, (Zondervan Books, 2014), I ran into a problem—I needed to entertain a houseguest who is in mourning and who is also. . . We’ll be kind and call her distraught rather than whiny. Since I didn’t want them to play card games commonly associated with gambling, such as silver loo or whist, and this lady is not bright enough to play chess, I went to the well of information that is The Beau Monde ladies, the Regency special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America. As usual, they gave me enough information to keep my guest entertained for weeks; therefore, I thought I would share a few of them with you all.

Let’s start with Spillikins.

From Wikipedia (Jeu de mikado photo)

This is a game that is still played today. Sticks of varying shapes and sizes are held upright, then allowed to fall into a random pile. The object of the game is to collect as many sticks as you can without disturbing any of the other sticks. I remember playing something similar to this as a child called “Ker plunk”—or something like that.

Another game that reminds me a little of a favorite childhood game was, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography. The idea was a race through Europe, reaching the goal first. Players moved their game pieces along a map of Europe according to the toss of a dice. Sound a little like The Game of Life?

Other games included first having to put together what we would now call a jigsaw puzzle which resulted in a board game of some kind. These games—and others—were stored in slip cases for easy storage or taking on long road trips.

So now I need to figure out how I can get the heroine and hero playing one of these games. Or maybe that will wait for another book in this series. All I know is that knowing more about the games of the time makes for far more interesting evenings in the country houses in which I like to place my characters, than the standards of playing cards, chess, or music.

This Winter, I Resolve to Promote Regency Fiction, by Susan Karsten

Winter is a season for hunkering down with a good book … at least where I live, in Wisconsin. Having discovered the joys of a good Regency romance, I want to share the joy I have found. Promoting the genre can be done in some simple ways.

1. When having a book chat with friends who are also inveterate readers, be sure to give them a few titles of the very best Regencies you can think of. If they are on the lookout for a good read (and who isn’t?), perhaps they will take your suggestion and thereby find a new love.

2. Mention to your friends who are Christians, that many Regencies are relatively clean and educational. Guide them to some reliable non-smutty titles or authors.

3. Share this blog on your facebook page. You never know whose curiosity will be piqued. They may initially check it out to see what their fb friend is into, and then check out the genre themselves.

4. Post on Facebook about the latest Regency you are reading.

Do you have an idea or two to share? Favorite Regency romances to recommend? Also, would love to read comments about success introducing Regency fiction to others.

Love, Joy & Peace to you, Susan

How Do You Handle the Winter Blues?

Depending on what part of the country you live in (if you live in the United States) your winter is either much colder than normal or nearly non-existent – looking much more like spring than winter. We have a long way to go before the weather officially turns the corner and anything could happen in the coming months – including lots of snow and dropping temperatures.

So how do your Regency Reflections authors handle the winter blues?

Ruth Axtell:

Embrace them.

With temps dipping into the single digits these last couple of weeks in Maine, and getting lots of snow, I just tell myself it’s good writing weather, since there is little temptation to go outside. I feel like I’m hibernating, getting a manuscript done and now editing.

Naomi Rawlings:

ice fishing
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I agree with Ruth. Embrace winter rather than dread it. First, snowy days make for excellent writing and putz-around-the-house days. There’s something wonderfully nostalgic to curling up in front of the fire with a book and a mug of hot chocolate while snow falls outside. And then there’s all the outside things you can do. Rent a snowmobile for a day trip, go skating, sledding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, show shoeing, or ice fishing. (Fish caught through ice is way better than fish caught when the weather is warm. I have no idea why, but I swear it’s true.)

I really think there are two ways to beat the Winter Blues. 1.) Take a break and be thankful for the slower pace that snowy days offer, or 2.) Get courageous. Bundle up, go outside, and try a new winter sport. I live on the southern shore of Lake Superior, where we get 150-200 inches of snow per year, our winters run six months long, and our trees don’t get leaves until June. People who live in this area well understand that winter doesn’t have to be boring. It can be just as fun as summer, sometimes even more so.

Laurie Alice Eakes

Um, I live in Texas–we don’t have winter blues. They consider this 40s-50s weather we’ve been having excessively cold for January, but I think it’s heavenly.

Snowman on frozen lake
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Kristy Cambron

I live in an area of the country where we have pretty defined weather for each season, so I actually enjoy winter! It just means that before we know it, the sunnier days of spring will be on the way. Winter is also a fantastic season for writers. I haven’t met one yet that wouldn’t love the extra time to snuggle in a warm house as the snow falls and plot that next novel – with a cup of steaming hot chocolate, of course!

Kristi Ann Hunter

I tend to ignore them, I suppose. With children in school and a regular calendar full of church activities, there would have to be a fairly significant amount of fresh snow/ice to make me adjust my schedule.

When that does happen, we of course go play in it. Then we thaw out in front of a movie, huddled together under blankets. There’s something about the forced weather break that makes us want to be together as a family. It feels like a stolen moment.

Hot Chocolate
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Susan Karsten

During the winter, I drink more hot liquids, such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate than I do in the summer. I still jog/run, but often veer out into the street when people haven’t shoveled their sidewalks. This is the time of year my family attends more concerts, plays, conferences and the like, as opposed to summer, when everything’s about “The Lake”.

 

What about you? How do you handle winter?

Interesting Apparel? How the Women of the Regency Rose Above it All

For the most part, Great Britain is a soggy place. Surrounded by water, rain is almost a way of life there. But what about snow; now that is an entirely different matter! Snow is much more unlikely even though many of my favorite Regencies are set in a country house at Christmas smothered in snow, giving the hero and heroine plenty of time to flirt, argue, ignore and fall in love with each other.

I am hoping that one of my next stories might be a Christmas Regency, so I decided to research winter apparel. I specifically remember that in these lovely stories, when they ventured out in the snow to get the Yule log, invariably we are told that the ladies rushed to get their pattens. I never really thought much about pattens, assuming it was a sort of a rubber overshoe that would fit over a sturdy walking boot to protect it from ruination, much like our mothers used to wear. Wow, was I wrong!

Picture #1

These my friends are pattens; and they weren’t for snow at all!

This pair is made of flat metal rings which made contact with the ground and the ring was attached to a metal plate nailed into the wooden sole. Can you imagine trying to keep your balance while wearing such things?

And when worn on stone floors they made such loud clatter that churches made ladies remove them when they entered. Many churches banned them altogether!

Jane Austen herself wrote of the “ceaseless clink of pattens” when referring to life in Bath; as we know being a perpetually rainy and damp part of England.

Picture #2They were clumsy platforms that raised the shoe a few inches from the ground to protect the hem of a gown and they were used by men as well as women, in the country on muddy, rutted lanes and in London when walking on horse infested pavement.

 

 

Picture #3Pattens date back to the 14th century. Only the rich would have been able to afford these porcelain china pattens worn to protect their long and ornate robes.

 

 

Picture #4These are huge pattens worn by Turkish women in 1738.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture #5

 

In the 17th century when ladies shoes were commonly made with an upper of figured silk or brocade that almost any venture out necessitated the use of this patten to protect the shoe as well as the hem of the gown. This is how the shoes fit into them and the metal ring would have been attached to the wooden platform under the shoe.

 

Picture #6By the 18th and 19th centuries, men’s shoes had thicker soles, hemlines rose, and as roadways and transportation improved pattens were abandoned by the ladies as well and were worn only by the working class men and women as they went about their duties.

In “A Memoir of Jane Austen,” James Edward Austen Leigh wrote about his aunts Cassandra and Jane:

The other peculiarity was that when the roads were dirty the sisters took long walks in pattens. This defense against wet and dirt is now seldom seen. The few that remain are banished from good society and employed only in menial work…

So, the next time you read about the ladies donning their pattens to venture out of doors, I dare you not to smile as you picture it!

The Woodlanders

Arrived at the entrance to a long flat lane, which had taken the spirit out of many a pedestrian in times when, with the majority, to travel meant to walk, he saw before him the trim figure of a young woman in pattens, journeying with that steadfast concentration which means purpose and not pleasure. He was soon near enough to see that she was Marty South. Click, click, click went the pattens; and she did not turn her head.

She had, however, become aware before this that the driver of the approaching gig was Giles. She had shrunk from being overtaken by him thus; but as it was inevitable, she had braced herself up for his inspection by closing her lips so as to make her mouth quite unemotional, and by throwing an additional firmness into her tread.

“Why do you wear pattens, Marty? The turnpike is clean enough, although the lanes are muddy.”

“They save my boots.”

“But twelve miles in pattens–’twill twist your feet off. Come, get up and ride with me.”

She hesitated, removed her pattens, knocked the gravel out of them against the wheel, and mounted in front of the nodding specimen apple-tree….

Thomas Hardy

She lost her pattens in the muck
& Roger in his mind
Considered her misfortune luck
To show her he was kind
He over hitops fetched it out
& cleaned it for her foot…

From the Middle Period Poems of John Clare (1820s)

The Mysterious Ms. Darcy

My first Regency was Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer and got me interested in the Regency time period. The book that really hooked me on the Regency romance, however, was Georgina by Clare Darcy.

Georgina has all the wonderful elements of a romance that absolutely delight me—delight me to the point that I think I have followed a little in her footsteps in my own romances—books that is, not life—a heroine being courted by just the right sort of gentleman when her heart demands she go after the exactly wrong gentleman. Ah, be still my beating heart for Shannon, a disreputable landowner with mystery and rumors swirling around him. Though I knew I would regret doing so in the morning, I stayed up late to finish this story and was delighted and saddened at the end—delighted with the outcome and saddened that the book was over.

Over the next several years, I read every Clare Darcy book I could find. These were what we now call traditional Regencies. Traditional Regencies are those in the true spirit of Georgette Heyer—comedies of manners with no sensuality other than a few subtle comments and maybe a kiss or two, no foul language, and generally appropriate for young women all the way up to old ladies.

All of Ms. Darcy’s books were named for the heroine, except for one named for two females, one I just learned of today, as I did some research on this post. They ranged from countryside frolics, to country house romps, to balls and adventures. The heroines usually had minds of their own without being anachronistic or too much alike, as far as I remember, and the heroes varied in temperament and social position, though all were at least gentry class.

When I started looking at writing Regencies myself, I asked a few people about Ms. Darcy. Who, exactly, was she and why didn’t she gain more acclaim in the genre? I discovered that Ms. Darcy was highly respected amongst true Regency devotees, but her person was  pretty much unknown. Some even hinted she might be a he.

According to Wikipedia now, ten years later, Ms. Darcy was an author from Ohio named Mary Deasy (1914-1978). Her papers are in the Boston University research library. This is the most information I’ve been able to find out about this author who, like Ms. Heyer, died before ever I read one of her books. Also like Ms. Heyer, Ms. Darcy was a powerful influence on me becoming a Regency writer.

If you haven’t yet picked up Georgina, Eugenia, Lydia, Cressida, Lady Pamela, or any of the other delightful books by Ms. Darcy, you are in for a treat when you do.

Interview with Author Mary Moore Interview — Part 2

Mary Moore, Regency Reflections contributor and author of Beauty in Disguise is with us Author Mary Mooreagain today, and just like yesterday, she’s offering to give away two copies of her latest Regency novel to two lucky blog visitors. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of the post to be entered in the giveaway. The giveaway will end Wednesday, January 16, at midnight.

1. Hi Mary, and thanks for being with us two days in a row. Today I’d like to ask you a few questions about writing Regencies and making your stories stand out. With the Regency Era being such a relatively short time in number of years; is it hard to create new storylines and fresh ideas?  

Normally, I would give you a pretty definitive no. There are a number of different voices and creative writers out there, who all have different perspectives and specific areas of interest on the period, and this results in some wonderful new stories every month. The growth in the research process and areas of expertise also adds a wonderful level of creativeness.

You will notice, however, that I started my answer with “normally!” After I signed the contract for Beauty in Disguise and scheduled it for release, my editor contacted my agent to tell us that there was another LIH already further along in the process with a similar premise to mine. As a relatively new author, I had no idea whether my editor would want to move back the date of release or ask me to propose a whole new story. But she thought the story would work out fine if I would just be willing to “tweak” it. I said yes, but little did I realize what “tweaking” it would mean!

2. How did they want you to change it, and how hard was that for you?

In our initial brainstorming session most of the changes seemed pretty much cosmetic. They really did like the premise and wanted to keep it if we could. So, we changed where the story was staged, the heroine’s dynamic with some of the other characters and some details about her past. But as I began the rewrite I realized that some of those changes affected the story much more than any of us anticipated.

3.Gulp. I was in a similar situation with a story once. I thought I was agreeing to some surface changes that got way deeper than I anticipated. Not fun! How did the changes for Beauty in Disguise differ from what you expected?

Originally, the build up to the “reveal” was pivotal to my story. But with some of the changes I made, my editor thought it watered down some of the conflict and, thereby, the impact too much. To increase that problem, they wanted the hero and heroine to meet earlier. So one by one, changes that started out as cosmetic ended up changing the storyline pretty drastically. There were quite a few more rewrites than my editor and I expected or wanted!

4.  How do you think these changes have helped to make your book stronger?

I usually have an inspirational message (and the verses of Scripture that go with it) in my mind ahead of time, and I write the story around it. In the rewrites of Beauty in Disguise, I began to get frustrated because either the message wouldn’t fit with the changes or the changes wouldn’t go with the message. I finally got to the point where I just gave the story to God. I asked Him to make sure it was His message that went out there instead of mine. Duh, right? So, in the end, having the story revolve around what He wants to say made the book exactly what it is supposed to be.

The postscript to the story is that one day I was in a hospital waiting room and I pulled out my Kindle to kill the time. I pulled up the first Regency I came to and I knew, on that very first page, that it was the other story…the one that came out before mine and sent me on this writing journey. I wanted to find someone, anyone, to say, “This is it, this is it,” until I realized how crazy I would have sounded. It was by an author I “knew” pretty well online. She and I have had a good laugh over it and I pray that God will be able to use both our stories to His glory!

5. Well, I’m glad everything worked out well between you and the other author. Are you excited to finally see the release of Beauty in Disguise?

That would be a giant understatement! It was by far tougher to write than my first one was, but it has also been a little over a year since my first one came out. I was ready to be out among readers again, and now I can move on to my next project. I am very blessed!

Thanks, Naomi, for your time and the interview. I am so happy to be associated with this site and all of the work everyone does here to support and spread the news about inspirational Regencies.

Here’s a little more about Beauty in Disguise. If you want to enter our giveaway, leave a comment below, and be sure to visit yesterday’s blog post for another chance to win Beauty in Disguise.

Hidden in plain sight.

After her scanBeauty Cover Fulldalous first Season, Lady Kathryn needs a new beginning. Concealing her stunning hair and sapphire eyes beneath a dowdy facade, she’s grateful to earn her keep as companion Kate Montgomery. Until she comes face-to-face with her past in Lord Dalton, the only man she has ever loved.

The debutante Dalton fell in love with years ago was beautiful beyond compare. The gentle, mysterious young woman he encounters at a country house has qualities he now values more highly—until he learns of her deception. Kate has broken his heart not once, but twice. Can faith help him see that love, like true beauty, always comes to light?