Cayenne Pepper Laced Chocolate: An Interview with Ruth Axtell

Vanessa here.

While I wait for Ruth to arrive, let me remind you what’s going on this week at Regency Reflections.

To celebrate Moonlight Masquerade, we’re running a special week-long contest. Starting today through next Friday, March 22, we’ll feature Regency quiz questions at the end of each post. To enter the contest, you’ll need to correctly answer the questions in the comment section below. For every correct answer, your name will be added into the drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card . There will be five questions in all, which means your name can be entered up to five times (if you get all five questions right). The deadline to answer ALL CONTEST QUESTIONS will be Saturday, March 23 at midnight.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Ruth Axtell and talk with her about her exciting new release, Moonlight Masquerade. Ruth, welcome to my porch. Can I get you something? Tea? A scone?

No. Well, have a seat in this freshly dusted wicker chair. My footman (i.e. the hubby) will stow your landau. My tulips need a bit more manure. Now, tell me what inspired you to write Moonlight Masquerade?

I first got the idea quite a few years ago, so the memory is quite sketchy, but I think it was a dream I woke up with. It was in regency times, and I remember an aristocratic lady and her butler, who wasn’t really a butler at all. That’s all I had to go on.

So the butler did it?  That was a risk given the societal norms of the Regency.

It was a challenge to have a noblewoman attracted to her butler, when social strictures would have scarcely had her seeing him as a human being on her level. So, I used the fact that she was a French Republican (i.e., believing in the original ideals of the French Revolution and Enlightenment-liberty, fraternity, equality) to make her see her servants differently than the normal mistress would have.moonlight-mas-cover-update

Wow, that is different, and you had to master so many facts about the French Revolution on top of your normal Regency research.

There were so many facts about the Napoleonic Wars that it’s hard to pinpoint just one. I think the more I read about Napoleon, the more I discovered how much harm he did to the European continent, and specifically that he set France back about a hundred years because of all the wars he led it through. Whereas Britain went full-speed ahead in the industrial revolution, bringing prosperity to its populations, France’s manhood, it’s agriculture, and money to invest in factories was decimated for a long time to come.

Ruth, let’s go back to the butler, Mr. Rees Phillips. What are his best and worst traits?

His best traits are his faithfulness and sense of duty. He has helped support his widowed mother and sister for many years since his dad died bankrupt. He is a loyal employee of the British government. But, these exemplary traits are also his worst because they make him rigid and uncompromising in many way. They also cause him to accept a subservient role in the Foreign Office where he has toiled for years.

 Is Lady Celine Wexham a good match for Mr. Phillips?

She is passionate and impulsive. These traits allow her to give her all to a cause or to those she loves. But they also cause her to act before weighing the consequences.

Before, I ask you about the juicy stuff, can you sum up what spiritual truth would have made a difference to your hero’s journey.

That God is above politics, patriotism, and nationalism.

Sounds like a lesson we can all take to heart. What about Lady Wexham?

That God is good and wants only the best for her.

Now that we’ve filled our religious quotient (this is RegencyReflections.com/ChristianRegency.com), let’s talk passion. How would rate the novel’s passion: smokin’ like Louisiana ribs, tepid like warm chamomile tea, deliciously layered by red velvet cake, or some other decadent food?

Slow, simmering burn like a dark chocolate laced with cayenne pepper. You don’t realize there’s a bite till it has melted in your mouth, and it’s too late to spit it out.

So Lady Wexham’s and Mr. Phillips’s first cayenne seasoned kiss takes place about midway in the story. When you wrote it, what was going through your mind? I know the rhythm of a romantic song can set the pacing of a love scene for me. Even a Hershey with almonds can create a spectacular smooch.

I am in my characters’ mind, so I am experiencing their motivations and feelings. I don’t need music or chocolate so much as just getting into that zone of who they are and what they’re experiencing at that particular point in time.Ruth Axtell (2)

Ruth, I admire your talent. You were one of the first voices I found bringing Regency stories to the CBA. How would you describe your career?

I describe a writing career as a challenge, which you undertake because you are compelled to. Currently most writers are trying to transition and adapt to the new digital age of book publishing. I describe successful as able to get the spiritual message across in each story, AND be able to make a living at writing.

Well, a three-book deal from Revell does help pay a few bills. Maybe a couple of Sunday bonnets. Before you get back in your landau and finish viewing our apple blossoms, tell me what nugget of truth you want the readers of Moonlight Masquerade to take with them.

That two people finding each other and falling in love, and submitted to God, can transcend whatever temporal differences seem to stand in their way.

Thank you, Ruth for stopping by and letting me run on about Moonlight Masquerade.

Here’s today’s question. Enter a comment with the right answer for a chance to win.

The title of Moonlight Masquerade refers to a masked ball. Which of the following costumes would not be a typical one at a regency ball masque?

a) shepherdess
b) pirate
c) hula girl
d) Harlequin

 

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.

Top 12 Posts of 2012

Here at Regency Reflections, we have a dynamic team that works hard to provide our followers great insight and heart about all things regency.

Below are our top 12 posts for 2012. Take a moment and enjoy. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2013.

Real Life Romance–And How to Keep it Alive 1
My Carriage Awaits… Maybe 2
A Review of “Jane Austen Knits” 3
A Flight of Fancy: a Regency Novel by Laurie Alice Eakes 4
Mr. Darcy, An Alpha Male in Love 5
Mourning in the Regency Period 6
What Happened to the Traditional Regency? 7
Interview and a Give-A-Way with Author Jamie Carie 8
Get to Know Our Own Laurie Alice Eakes (And win that gift basket!) 9
How to Have an American Duke 10
“Passion for Regency Fashion – The Pelisse” Susan Karsten 11
Wedding Hotspots in Regency England 12

Christmas Bells (December Bells) Are Ringing

When I think of Christmas Time, the lilt of bells and the memories I associate with them flood my mind. A warmth grips me, hugging me tighter than my best spencer. To me, bells always sound happy, giving an ethereal lightness and glow to the heart of the hearer. I prefer the sounds of cast bells. Their song is richer and more full-bodied than their thin sheet-metal cousins.

England is steeped in both, and bell-ringing is a part of the culture and history. The tradition of casting English bells predates the Middle Ages. Today, two of her best bellfounders survive, Taylors of Loughborough (1400) and Mears and Stainbank of Croydon (1570).

Moreover, bells and bell-ringing played a role in Regency life.  Bells rang to announce a church service. This service would be on Christmas Day as oppose to the Christmas Eve masses we are accustomed to.

I can imagine hearing the peal (the loud prolonged ringing) of St. George’s eight hemispherical bells tolling on the morn of December 25. Maybe the bell ringers would perform a change ringing where they would display a festive pattern of bell tolls.  It wouldn’t be a familiar holiday tune but an exquisite series of tones set to a rhythm indicative of the ringers’ skills. Change ringing is still popular today, in England and around the world.

Church bells would also ring for weddings. Although, it would probably be unusual (in my opinion), I couldn’t find any prohibitions to having a Christmas Day wedding. If Christmas fell on a Sunday after the banns have been successfully read, what cleric would stop the couple and delay the ringing of another successful match?

Amidst the joy, bells of London could also possess a seamy side. They are said to have been rung at Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) announcing to gawkers to come stare at the mentally unstable patients. I would hope that Christmas Day would be spared, but not the whole of December.

Perhaps after leaving St. George’s, if I were walking toward a coffee shop, a Morris dancer (or a troupe of Morris dancers) would perform in front of me. The bells strapped below their knees would tinkle with each of their merry steps. The Morris dancer tradition dates back to 15th Century in England. Its earliest notations suggests it was a dance that both men and women could partake in, but at the time of the Regency, it was mostly a male endeavor.

Walking a little farther, I might hear bells strapped to a horse team or the ringing of bells on residences which have not installed a doorknocker.   Those households wouldn’t have the advance warning of the importance of their visitor, as a footman’s successive knocks would detail, just the egalitarian jingle for all who darken their thresholds. Well, hopefully these homes are prepared for all coming to sup for Christmas dinner.

Trudging a little farther, I hear a dull peal, one laced with sorrow. Bells were also used to announce deaths. Continuing a tradition started in the Middle Ages, church bells were rung to drive away evil spirits from the departed souls. My heart breaks for anyone losing a loved one, particularly during a season meant for love of family and friends. My continued prayer is for the families of Newtown, Connecticut. Here at Regency Reflections/ChristianRegency.com our hearts are broken, too.  The ringing of twenty-six bells are too many.

References:

RWA’s Beau Monde Chapter

Oxford’s City Branch of Church Bell Ringers

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Forrest, John. The History of Morris Dancing, 1483–1750. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1999.

 

Tories, Whigs, Foxite-Whigs, Oh My. What shall become of us, Lord?

March 31, 1807,

Tories, Whigs, Foxite-Whigs, oh my. What shall become of us, Lord?

The government is not stable, barely lasting two years. My fears of invasion, a total loss of the country I know and love, fills my heart.

How can Providence allow such upheavals?

Why change from Pitt, to Grenville, to Portland? Is the title of Prime Minister difficult to hold?

I know I am just a woman. I should contend myself to my needlework. Surely, there are enough ribbons to be added to little Mary’s gown to make my mind numb to fear.

Yet, how can I even think of my girl coming of age in times like these. My heart aches at seeing her cast into this society where dissension reigns. She cannot be a war bride. No! Not her.

My thumb has turned painful. I yank the needle freeing it from the swelling flesh. I’ve pricked finger and  stained the satin hem.

Is this coursing of rouge a sign to come? Don’t our enemies in France lay in wait for our weakness? This turmoil is the proper time to strike.

I dispatch my maid for fresh muslin. I will not ruin anymore ribbons with my wringing of hands. Doubt will not save my country.

As I swaddle my hands in the soft cloth, my palms meet. A peace settles on my shoulders. The churning of my stomach quiets. I remember Your words.

Romans 13:1-4

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

So Pitt, Grenville and  now Portland… You ordained them to be Prime Minister, in such a time as these?

I slump in my chair. The very thought of this contention being God’s will disheartens me. Yet, the soft words of the passage sing in my soul.

Romans 13:5-7

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Now my heart is pricked. For I have not given tribute to the governing, just gossip and trepidation.  I repent of that Lord. I uncover my hands, slapping flesh to flesh, and pay tribute. I pray for Providence’s guidance and mercy to fall upon my leaders. It is the best offering I can render.

Too Full for God

Vanessa here,

Do you have room in your heart for anything else?  A new job to help with the bills, a fundraiser to feed the starving children, a sale at your favorite crowded shoe store.

Have you stacked your life with carpooling, lil’ Ellen’s ballet classes, and you’re-the-only-one-who-can ministry work, making a buck, oh and quality hubby time between 7:00 and 10:00 on Saturdays, that you’ve lost the meaning of having quality devotion?

I have.

This year seemed to be one in which many things had finally come to fruition: My novel, Madeline’s Protector is being published. My hubby stopped being deployed, at least for a little while. My firm just signed its biggest client.

Then reality came a knocking.

Revisions and more revisions to my master piece. (All the edits, including cuts were for the best.) So, now hubby wants me to go to bed at a decent hour. Doesn’t he know inspiration hits at 1:00 A.M. My client believes that they should be my only obligation. It get’s better. Their offices are an hour from my home, and they want this homeschooling principle partner to be onsite early in the morning, three days each week. I won’t mention their lack of understanding of how long something takes to develop and deploy software.

So I adjusted, code for reducing my devotion time and being less present with my family.  Surely, they won’t mind. I began dropping off/out of my net circles. There was no time to twitter or follow cherished loop threads. Thus, when I needed spiritual refreshment, I pushed away from God and those needed friends offering words of encouragement.

Yet, as I seek to get handle on this new normal, tragedy strikes. My younger brother is prepped for open heart surgery in Florida. He lives in Georgia near the rest of the immediate kin. He just visited a client when he started experiencing chest pains. With a torn Aorta, the odds of his survival were less than 25%. The doctor told him without the surgery, he’d die in less than two days.

All the cards of my life fell off the table. My hands trembled, and I choked backed tears as I tried to convince our mother that everything was going to be fine. I don’t remember what I said or did next, except speeding away from my ‘not-understanding’ client. I have flashes of begging Delta to let me an oversold flight to be at his side when he comes out of the five hour surgery.

While I waited for positive signs of recovery, him waking up, etc., I slept on a hospital couch. My 16th anniversary passed with just phone calls. My child’s upcoming birthday party went unplanned. Nonetheless, my client learned to survive. My book galley edits… Well, I’m thankful for the editing team.

The only positive, other than seeing Marc open his eyes and squeeze my hand, was finding time to increase my prayer time. After crying out to God  for days on end, I regained that sense of connection. I never felt His arms about me more.

Why must it take near tragedy to begin to re-prioritize? I know that others have even more on their plates. I can’t imagine the depths of the burdens each of you have weighing on your lives, the important demands nipping at your heels.  All I know, is that you must run and fall at His feet, collapse your weight into God’s warm embrace.

Sleeping in the meat-locker cold air in the hospital, sniffing the wonderful bleach-laced alcohol scents in the air, gave me the opportunity to see my life, how much I’d isolated myself from friends and family with the myriad of pursuits I’d packed into my life.

First, I must apologize to my friends and family. I’ve been on the edges of your lives, only dipping my head and nodding to appear as if I’m present and involved. Every second that we breathe is precious. Every moment has worth, not just the accolades or project deliverables.

I repent for all “my busy time.”  God made us to enjoy a Sabbath, every seven days.  I’ve made it into a seven-day work week. How can I give my best to my clients or to hubby and my lil’ girl, if my batteries are never recharged?

I need to say no. You can’t serve two masters or promise to deliver something that is not humanly possible.We all want to be the good guy, the go-to girl. I am going to have to find joy in slacking. Miss Eager Beaver is now going to be, Mrs. let-me-check-my calendar. It won’t be easy. Maybe there’s a 12 step program for saying no.

Lastly, no matter how “important” some deadlines or tasks seem, it will never be more important than finding time to commune with the Lord. He is the lifter of my head when all seems lost. He is the city on hill giving guidance to those stuck in the valley. I don’t ever want to have my heart so full, that I push God and dependence upon him out of the ventricles.

My brother is now recovering at home in Georgia. He’s a walking miracle. God has used this circumstance for all our good.

Be blessed and say no to all but God.

 

 

Regency Sabbath, the Anglican Labor Day

Vanessa here,

As we settle in to enjoy Labor Day, I began to think of what the Regency times would think of such a holiday, a day off to celebrate the working man.  In fact, they did have a day to celebrate not working. In fact, they did so every week, on the Sabbath.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

For Anglican Regency England, the Sabbath was Sunday. Typically, the only work allowed in keeping with the Sabbath would be the preparation of the food and dressing. If one considered writing letters, “creating.”  The correspondence would have to wait. Cultivating your land (if you were lucky enough to inherit or purchase) would have to be delayed. Housework? Well, hopefully your home was clean the day before and would be sustained until Monday.   Remember, you should only minimally use your servants (if you could afford the help) and servants needed time for church and Sabbath observation too.

Outings other than to the parish? If one could walk to a neighbors as opposed to engaging a coachman and carriage, it could be permitted, but don’t get too merry socializing.  The Bow Street Runners or local magistrates might apprehend you, like they did many drinkers and gamblers placing them in stocks on the public ‘green’. Nothing like a little public humiliation to get you to uphold the Sabbath.

So on this day, like I did Sunday, I’ll take a moment to reflect then sneak back to my quill.

Happy Labor to All the hard workers out there.

Be blessed.

References:

Holidays are Holy Days by Jessica Snell

The Dangerous World of Regency England By Audrey Moorhouse

R. E. Swift. ‘Crime, Law and Order in Two English Towns during the Early Nineteenth Century: the experience of Exeter and Wolverhampton, 1815-56’

We Have A Winner

Dawna from Dayton, Washington  won:

 A Captain’s Courtship by Regina Scott. Thank you Regina for stopping by and gifting one of readers. Keep visiting Regency Reflections for more chances to win.


Call Me Maybe, Autumn?

Vanessa here,

My child is bored and now looking forward to the purchase of new scissors and paper. She’s awaiting change, the exchange of one season for the next. Call it back to school or progress. We’ll soon be tracking across hot parking lots and crowded malls for the best deals on back-to-school fair. Hopefully, we’ll catch a breeze and a 40% off sale.

Overhead the leaves haven’t started to turn. Sweeping my wet brow, I long for cold sweet tea. The heat of summer still maintains it grip, but with the advent of August, it’s only a matter of time for autumn to come a callin’. Maybe it will call tomorrow?

I love all things Autumn: The hues of ruby trees scattered amongst the emerald pines. The sweetness of ripening apples in the off-the-beaten-path orchards. And yes, the cooling of temperatures.

In the midst of Autumn, we get sweater weather. Warm enough to survive with just a light knit but not cold enough to bundle up head to toe in wool.

For those that don’t know, I live in Georgia where steam and humidity are second nature to our summers. I remember when wearing panty hose was common place, (Wow, I sound old) and mine would become oppressively sticky just crossing a parking lot.

So I often wondered how my Regency heroines would survive, layered in chemise, corsets, massive skirts, walking dresses, carriage dresses, etc.  Even when sea bathing in Bath, they were steeped in fabric. How could they survive?

Well, a little bit of research answered the pervasive question. Regency summers weren’t that hot. In fact, 1816 was known as the ‘year without a summer’. Volcanic eruptions originating in the East Indies cast thick ash clouds that affected temperatures throughout Europe. England seemed shrouded in cold. It snowed on Easter. Snow remained on the ground and in the hills and countryside until late July.  August barely warmed, then by September the temperatures fell again and The River Thames froze over once more.

Can you image? Barely a month of sweater weather.  I might complain about the heat, the sweaty nylons, but I don’t know how I would deal with a year of no heat. How would the apples mature? Would there be pie? Would my child ever get that feeling of expectation?  The corn in 1816 froze on the stalks and couldn’t even be used to feed cattle.

Maybe I should rethink my disdain for the heat.

So, I’ll try Spanks and enjoy my sleeveless blouses for another month or two and love each new humid day.

Another reason for Gratitude,

Be Blessed,

Vanessa Riley

http://booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1800_1849.htm

http://www.essentially-england.com/weather-in-england-in-the-1800s.html

http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=winter-history

 

How to Hold a Regency Wedding Ceremony

Vanessa here,

My fellow bloggers just finished a great month of marriage posts, so I thought I’d share one more on the actual ceremony.

How to have a Regency Wedding Ceremony

Prelude to a Wedding

Your hero has asked the heroine to marry him. This could be from the love bubbling in his heart or the flintlock pointed at his back for compromising the lady.

Your hero and heroine (who is of age 21 or has parental consent – the flintlock will take care of that one) must wait for their ceremony:

  1. Three Sundays for the Banns to be published typically in the morning service of the parish to where the ceremony is to take place.
  2. If you hero hales from a separate parish, the banns must be read in both places otherwise the hero and heroine must wait for this to occur and be attested to by each Curate.
  3. In a pinch, they can apply for a special license, but a compromised groom is in no hurry.

The day has come. The couple breezes through the ceremony and the Groom plants a kiss upon her lips. Wrong! Wrong!

The ceremony is quite long and more importantly, there is no, “You may now kiss your bride.”

According to the Church of England Common Book of Prayers, which would have been used for all English weddings performed during the Regency, the ceremony is long and there is no exchanging of rings (only a single ring is given) and no kissing. Therefore, if your Groom kisses the Bride, it is bold and should be written like that, but I digress.

The only touching is what I call the dance of hands. At several points during the ceremony the Groom, the Bride, and the Vicar hold and exchange hands.

Back to the Wedding Ceremony

The wedding is taking place between 8 in the morning and noon in a church. The Bride’s mother won’t allow her to escape, and her father still has his flintlock trained on the Groom.  So let’s begin the ceremony.

The Vicar will open his book, The Book of Common Prayers and say:

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.

Therefore, if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

If the bride’s true love wishes to interrupt with proof that the Groom is married in Scotland, now is the time. Or the Bride’s dead husband can now stagger into the church from his return from the Peninsula War. Ok, these don’t hold with our compromised scenario from above but if someone is going to interject and stop this Regency wedding, now is the time.

No one? Well let’s continue.

 The Vicar will now speak to the Groom and the Bride:

 I REQUIRE and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.

 At which day of Marriage, if any man do allege and declare any impediment, why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony, by God’s Law, or the Laws of this Realm; and will be bound, and sufficient sureties with him, to the parties; or else put in a Caution (to the full value of such charges as the persons to be married do thereby sustain) to prove his allegation: then the solemnization must be deferred, until such time as the truth be tried.

So the Vicar has now given them one last chance to fess up. No one does, so he continues:

Groom’s full name WILT thou have this Woman to thy wedded Wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?

The Groom takes a gulp then answers: I will.

Then the vicar will say to the bride:

Bride’s full name WILT thou have this Man to thy wedded Husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?

The Bride shall answer: I will.  That right ladies, this is the origin of those ‘obey’ words.  So authors don’t modernize and omit those words because you want to show your heroine doesn’t conform.

Then the vicar will ask: Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man?

  Now starts the dance of the hands:

 The Vicar, receiving the bride at her father’s or friend’s hands, shall cause the groom with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as followeth:

I Groom’s full name take thee Bride’s full name to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Then they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her right hand taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise say after the Minister,

 I Bride’s full name take thee Groom’s full name to my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

 Then they again loose their hands; and the Groom shall give unto the Bride a Ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the Vicar and Clerk. And the Vicar, taking the Ring, shall deliver it unto the Groom, to put it upon the fourth finger of the Bride’s left hand. And the Groom holding the Ring there, and taught by the Vicar, shall say:

 WITH this Ring I thee wed, with my Body I thee worship, and with all my worldly Goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then the Groom will put the Ring upon the fourth finger of the Bride’s left hand, and they shall both kneel down.

 For all writers going into this much detail, don’t forget the kneeling or the ring. An engagement ring was not common back then, but a gift may have been given to signify the betrothal. Anything given before marriage could potential stay with the bride’s family if for some reason, the bride doesn’t live long enough to have children from this union. I’m just saying, since this is a compromised marriage. However, the bride must have a ring for the ceremony. These rings could be made from any metal, even brass.

  Then the Vicar will lead everyone in prayer. No, they are not married yet.

Let us pray. O ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this Man and this Woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge,) and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the Vicar shall join their right hands together, and say: Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

Then the vicar shall speak unto the people gathered:

 FORASMUCH as Groom’s full name. and Bride’s full name. have consented together in holy Wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a Ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be Man and Wife together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Alas, the Regency Bride and Regency Groom are married.

Ok, your groom and bride persevered, but the ceremony is not over.

The Vicar shall add this Blessing:

GOD the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.

 Then the Vicar will move to the Lord’s Table and shall sing this Psalm 128.

BLESSED are all they that fear the Lord: and walk in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be. Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine: upon the walls of thine house; Thy children like the olive-branches: round about thy table.

Lo, thus shall the man be blessed: that feareth the Lord. The Lord from out of Sion shall so bless thee: that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long;

Yea, that thou shalt see thy children’s children: and peace upon Israel.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

 Your wedding is still not done. The Vicar will now lead everyone through Psalm 67 and additional blessings for procreation. See: http://www.christianregency.com/Research/Regency-Weddings/Marriage.pdf for more.

Amended to add the Register

This is not the couples list of goodies/presents gifted for there new marital status but an important document signed at the end of the ceremony.

My dear friend Nancy has pointed out this important step. (Thank you) The couple, the vicar, and witnesses must  sign the register in the parish after the church wedding. Without this vital step, the long drawn out process is for naught. Without signatory proof (with correct full names), the marriage ceremony may be counted invalid.

Ok, now….

The beleaguered man and wife will leave the church for the wedding breakfast held at a friend’s house. After this long ceremony, they need a good meal.

References

Church of England Common Book of Prayers

http://impulsivehearts.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/a-regency-marriage-primer/

http://www.christianregency.com/Research/Regency-Weddings/Marriage.pdf