I am so excited to announce a few things. For “The Bargain” fans, the season finale is on its way. My editor is having one more look at it to make sure it sparkles when it shows up on your Kindle. It will also be available in Paperback, too. Today, I must share with you the cover for my next serial novel that will release in January 2016.
Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Bradley Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?
Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Bradley’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Bradley’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?
This story of Bradley and Amora’s is very dear. Parts of their tale made me weep. I hope it lives up to my heroes like Jo Beverly, Beverly Jenkins, and Laurie Alice Eakes who weave suspense into their sweeping romances.
What is a serial novel?
Unveiling Love is a serialized story or soap opera told in episodes. Each episode averages three to eight chapters, about 15,000 to 30,000 words. Each episode resolves one issue. Emotional cliffhangers may be offered, but the plot, the action of the episode, will be complete in resolving the main issue.
My promise to you is that the action will be compelling, and I will tell you in the forward the length of the episode.
Unfortunately there isn’t a way to post pictures in the comments, but if you make a character and post it elsewhere (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.), please leave the link below. We’d love to see them!
Technical Directions for saving the picture:
On a PC running Windows 7 or higher, go to the Start menu and search for the “Snipping Tool”. Select new and drag a square around your picture. Then save it.
I don’t have a Mac, but the internet says you can do something similar in OSX by pressing command + shift + 4.
If these methods don’t work for you, search the internet for how to do a screen capture on your operating system. If you end up with the entire screen, you can go to pic monkey to crop it. (Select edit, load your picture, then select crop. Save your picture to your computer.)
Last fall, I wrote about researching my latest regency romance. Well, this month it is available and I thought I’d give readers an update. My title and cover have been changed. It is now title She Shall Be Praised and the new cover is below.
She Shall Be Praised (from Proverbs 31) is a sequel to my London-set Regency, The Rogue’s Redemption. In Book 2 of The Leighton Sisters series, Katie Leighton, younger sister of Hester Leighton from The Rogue’s Redemption, travels to Paris with Hester and her husband, Gerrit Hawkes.
Paris has been liberated from Napoleon by the British and other allied countries, so tourists are once again traveling from England to the Continent. Katie, who travels from America (Maine), meets a young French veteran who fought at Waterloo against the British. Among the narrow medieval street of Paris and the monuments like Notre Dame, Katie finds herself more interested in visiting the blind, cripple veteran at Les Invalides, a hospital and old-age home for veterans.
I love France and all things French, from the food to the art. It was interesting to research this period, when the horrors of the French Revolution and the years of wars under Napoleon have brought about the restored monarchy. But along with the new king, comes a wave of reactionary politics as the aristocrats come back from their emigration during the Reign of Terror, wanting to have their place in society restored. They want things back the way they used to be. But too many people have tasted the freedom under the civil government of Napoleon, so there is a clash of old school vs. new.
The land has been devastated by years of war, so France has missed out on the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and the prosperity it has brought to Britain. And yet, during this time of the Restoration, people continue to live their lives.
Katie Leighton, my “beauty” in this beauty and the beast tale, doesn’t consider herself a beauty, but a plain Jane. Etienne Santerre, my “beast” hides under both an assumed name and behind the thick walls of Les Invalides, a virtual prisoner of his evil valet, Pierre. There is a mystery surrounding Etienne’s background, which Katie senses, but which Etienne is silent on. In the meantime, she is more concerned with his soul. Little by little, her light begins to shine into Etienne’s darkness.
The story takes Etienne from the walls of Les Invalides to the Loire Valley to his ancestral home. There he faces what he has tried to blot out since he landed at Les Invalides, a wounded, crippled soldier. When his life is most at risk, he begins to turn to the God Katie has witnessed to him.
Etienne is a dark hero, sorely in need of Beauty’s touch. She shares her faith with him in her gentle, loving way, until he lets down his defenses and allows the healing power of love to restore all he has lost.
Many a fictional aristocratic hero had spent a great deal of time at “his club”. While many clubs of various affiliations and interests were started in the late Georgian era and throughout the Victorian period, the Regency was dominated by the gentlemen’s clubs marching down St. James Street.
The three oldest and most established clubs set the example. And while many have come and gone since the 1820s, the three powerhouses remain today, still sitting in the same locations our heroes visited.
The granddaddy of the the London gentlemen’s clubs, White’s was first established in 1693, at the site of what would later become Boodle’s.
It started life innocently enough as a hot chocolate emporium, but shifted to an exclusive club and gambling den in 1736. In the late 1700s it moved down St. James street to its current location. Soon after that it became known as the club of those affiliated with the Tory political party. (A more extensive history of the movement can be found here.)
Though not the only club sporting a bay window, it was the most famous bay window. Being seen sitting in White’s window was a sign of popularity and prestige.
White’s was and is still a men only club. Queen Elizabeth II is the only woman known to have been entertained at the club. Entrance into the club has always been difficult, with an exceedingly long wait list and a discerning membership policy. Today a potential member must be vouched for by at least 35 existing members.
That exclusivity is probably why only one man has been recorded as leaving the club voluntarily. While others have left through death or shameful forced resignation, Prime Minister David Cameron is said to have resigned White’s over there men-only rule.
If the club has a website, I couldn’t find it. Though there are several other London establishments trying to cash in on the popularity and prestige of the White’s name.
Brook’s has been a private club from its inception. In 1762 it started as a private society formed by two men blackballed from White’s. The society then split into two groups, each of which established their own club.
One of these groups consisted of nearly thirty prominent members of the Whig political party. They established the group that would later become Brook’s, though the club was originally named Almack’s because they met at William Almack’s coffee house, very near the prestigious Almack’s Assembly Rooms.
The group moved to its current home on St. James Street in 1778 into a building built by William Brooks, a wine merchant who acted as manager of Almack’s.
While all gentlemen’s clubs were known for gambling, Brook’s gaming rooms were notoriously going day and night.
While Brook’s does not allow women to become full members, they do allow female guests. And while their website is certainly easier to find, unless you’re a member you don’t get more than a pretty picture of the building’s facade.
If you’re wondering what happened to the group on the other side of the split that formed Brook’s, you have only to look down St. James Street to Boodle’s.
While the other group met at Almack’s coffee house, this group, friends of Lord Shelburne, future Marquess of Lansdowne and Prime Minister, met at the tavern. The tavern was taken over by Edward Boodle, from whom the club takes it’s name.
It moved to it’s current location on St. James Street in 1782. It almost closed in 1896, but the members gathered enough funds to purchase the club from the heirs.
Probably the reason Boodle’s is mentioned less in Regency novels is that the club became the meeting place of the gentry while White’s maintained it’s claim to the more senior members of the nobility. While a few titles can be found on Boodle’s membership list, there are considerably more gentlemen than aristocrats.
Boodle’s is the only one of the three clubs that allows female members, though they have their own entrance.
How do you feel about Regency heroes being members of these clubs? Which one would you want to belong to?
Lovely heroine, Jessamine Barry, daughter of a vicar no less, is tempted, and gives in to vanity when she allows a flattering knave to draw her away from her standards.
You may have noted my journalistic headline-style title, and the 30 word summary with which I started this post. I don’t know if I got your attention, but the book “A Heart’s Rebellion”got my attention as a wonderful read. And since it has simmered in my heart and mind for a few weeks, a marvelous truth-filled spiritual theme has surfaced from the book’s delight-filled sea of lavish plot, setting, and characterization.
The hero, Lancelot Marfleet, is a Christlike man. However, he is not deliciously handsome like so many romance heroes. But from Scripture, we learn that our Lord himself was not particularly attractive or handsome:
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
The heroine is Jessamine Barry, who sidetracks onto a tangent of worldliness, seeking satisfaction in being admired by a man…any man.
She reminds me of Folly, a name which could be used for Jessamine as she leaves her family home for the bright lights of London. She also discards the teachings of her youth:
“The wisest of women builds her house, but Folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1
Lancelot, in his Christlike way, shows grace to Jessamine, is patient, long-suffering, and kind, even when she is not. He ultimately rescues her from her sin and gives her a way out. He draws her to himself in love and completely saves her. For me, this chain of events makes this book even more worthwhile for the picture of redemption shown through the character of Lancelot.
To celebrate the release of A Heart’s Rebellion, author Ruth Axtell will be giving away two copies of her book. The first giveaway ended Monday, March 24 at midnight, and the second ends Monday, March 31 (today) at midnight. To enter the giveaway, answer the following question in the comments below:
Giveaway Question: The hero in A Heart’s Rebellion, Lancelot Marfleet, has a hobby, which is botany. What is a famous botanical garden in London, which existed in regency times?
Also, If you’ve read the book, did you notice any other Christlike attributes of the hero? I’d love to read your comments on this post, Thanks for your time, Susan Karsten
“What place is so proper as the assembly-room to see the fashions and manners of the times, to study men and characters…” Thomas Wilson, Dancing Master, An analysis of Country Dancing, 1811, pg. 6 of The Dancing Master.
It was late. The lights had dulled. I turned to leave, and there across the crowded bookstore, I saw it. A book like no other.
Timed to the subtle Barnes & Noble background minuet, I stepped near and ran a finger along it’s fine spine. It whispered a blurb just for me.
Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.
Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul—and hidden sorrows of her own.
Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master—a man her mother would never approve of—but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village . . . and to her mother’s tattered heart?
Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a “good match” in Regency England.
It had me at Finding. With The Dancing Master tucked firmly in my grasp, I gave the attendant my coins and fled to a carriage, content in the knowledge I’d found a joy to keep me warm through the frigid Atlanta night.
Vanessa: Today at R&R we have Julie Klassen joining us. Julie, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to Regency Reflections. The Dancing Master ‘s premise really intrigues me. Normally, we see Regency books with the hero as a duke, a barrister, a spy, or maybe a doctor, but a dancing master, not so much. How did you come up with this idea?
Julie: In Regency England, dancing was one of a limited number of ways young men and women could spend time together or court one another. It was considered such an important social skill that parents hired dancing masters to come into the homes and teach their sons and daughters to dance. “Every savage can dance,” Mr. Darcy says, but unless one wished to dance very ill (Mr. Collins comes to mind) lessons were crucial. So, as an author of half a dozen other books set in the Regency era—and someone who loves to dance–it was probably only a matter of time until I wrote about a dancing master. As I say in my author’s note, I learned to dance the box step standing atop my dad’s size 15 triple E shoes. Later, I went on to take every ballroom dance class I could sign up for at the University of Illinois. I even taught a few dance classes of my own through community ed. I enjoyed drawing on all of these experiences to write this book. Like ballroom dancing, I find English country dancing exhilarating, joyful, and just plain fun. I hope to express that joy in the novel.
Vanessa: Wow, Dad has some big shoes to fill. Poor Mr. Klassen, has his work cut out for him, between dad and all of your romantic heroes. Tell me about what kind of research you conducted. Hopefully plenty of dancing.
Julie: I read instructional guides and journals written by dancing masters of ages past, and watched reenactors perform English country dances online. But the best and most enjoyable kind of research was actually learning dances from that period. My dear, long-suffering husband and I went English country dancing several times.
I also attended the annual general meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, held in Minneapolis in 2013. There, I took two more dancing classes to polish my skills before the “Netherfield ball,” complete with live musicians and costumes. It was a wonderful experience to dance with fellow Austen fans from around the world.
During the conference, we also watched a BBC production: “Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball.” In this program, a team of experts recreated a private Regency ball, complete with historical food, costumes, music, and dances. Unlike most of the sedate dances we see performed in period movies nowadays, in reality many of the dances of the era were fast paced and lively. Those of us watching were surprised how energetic the dances were, and how the performers (trained dancers in their twenties) were breathing hard and perspiring after a few dances.
By viewing the program and taking the dance classes, I gleaned several details to include in The Dancing Master. For example, when a couple reaches the top or bottom of a long-ways set (line of dancers) they stand out for a round before working their way back up or down the line. This gives couples a breather, and more importantly, a chance to talk and flirt with their partners!
Vanessa: Ok, enough of the pleasantries. Julie, tell me about dreamy Alec Valcourt.
Julie: Alec is capable, loyal, and determined to support his mother and sister. He is a sharp dresser, prefers to keep his hands clean, and wields a fencing sword far better than an axe or spade in a rural village where most men are farmers or miners. As you can imagine, this leads to several painful scrapes along the way.
Vanessa: Why is Julia Midwinter the perfect foil to Alec?
Julie: Julia is a bit reckless, flirtatious, and difficult. But like many people in real life, there is more going on beneath the surface—and in her past—that has made her who she is. As the story unfolds and secrets are revealed, Alec begins to see the vulnerable, wounded soul beneath the brash exterior. He learns to understand her and becomes fond of her, especially as she begins to grow and change, and I hope readers will follow his lead.
Vanessa: Growing and changing. Sigh. I know I’ve made a few mistakes on that road. What spiritual truth would have made a difference to Julia, if she had realized it at the beginning?
Julie: All her life, she had been seeking a father’s love and approval. And if she could not have a father’s love, then any man’s approval would do. She had strived so long and so hard to gain attention in the wrong ways and from the wrong people…. If Julia had realized earlier that even though her earthy father failed her, her heavenly father loved her and highly valued her–she might have avoided some of the foolish things she did to try to fill the void left by the absence of a father’s love.
Vanessa: After reading Julia’s and Alec’s story, what else do have for us. There will be more cold nights in Atlanta.
Julie: I am currently working on rewrites for my next Regency-era novel with Bethany House Publishers. It’s a mysterious romance called The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and is due to be released December 2014.
Vanessa: Julie, The Dancing Master, is an amazing book. Asking this of any author is unfair, but if you could sum up the spiritual journey in one word what would it be?
Julie: Grace. I enjoyed weaving in grace in its many forms–social graces, grace in dancing, and most importantly, God’s grace—and I hope readers will be reminded of His amazing grace for us all.
Vanessa: Thank you for being a great sport and sharing this special book with us.
Julie: Thank you for having me here!
Julie Klassen is going to give away a paperback or e-book copy of The Dancing Master to one lucky commenter. Share with us your favorite dance, dance scene, or dance disaster. Mine took place at last year’s RWA conference when I tried to do a reel. There’s video….
Any way, here’s an excerpt from The Dancing Master:
“May I help you with something, Miss Midwinter?” Alec said officiously, hoping to chase the self-satisfied grin from her face.
“Yes, actually.” She clasped her hands. “I’ve come for a dancing lesson. Here—since Lady Amelia would never allow it in the house.”
He licked dry lips and felt his pulse rate quicken. Part of him relished the notion of being alone with Miss Midwinter. Enjoying her company and her undivided attention. Taking her hand in his to lead her through a private dance in a deserted churchyard . . . His chest tightened at the thought.
But he knew all too well the possible consequences of such stolen moments. Such seemingly innocent beginnings.
She took a step forward, and he stepped back. She performing the chassé, and he performing the dance of retreat.
He said, “Miss Midwinter. Before we proceed any further, I must tell you that I have a strict policy against any romantic involvement with my pupils.”
She blinked, momentarily taken aback. “In that case, perhaps I ought to reconsider becoming a pupil of yours.”
JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I have been editing and proofreading a manuscript I published some years ago, to which I have recently received the publisher’s rights back. I am going over the story in order to self-publish it as an e-book on Amazon. What strikes me about rereading a story written a while ago is how much research goes into writing a regency—or any historical, for that matter. When one is in the process of writing it, one takes this for granted. But when you read it long afterward, it’s enough to make you shake your head. Did I really know all that stuff?
In this story, which takes place in London ballrooms, a country estate, and on the U.S. frontier of Maine, I had to research both the social mores of regency society, the low-class pastimes of regency rakes (cockfighting, gambling, etc.), the sports that the athletic sorts– aka Corinthians–indulged in, before turning to the fledgling settlements of “the Maine Territory,” and the wealth being generated from its pine forests.
So, you can see that a whole range of information was needed in order to build the framework for the love story between my hero and heroine.
Take the gambling game of faro, for example. I’d read enough Georgette Heyer regencies to be somewhat familiar with the game, but I never knew until I researched it that it was played on a board, upon which the cards were laid out like so:
I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to England during the researching of this book. Not only did I visit the London Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts on everyday life in the city over the centuries, but I also discovered a wonderful mansion not too far outside of London. This estate served as a model for the setting of a house party in my story. I was able to tour the rooms and grounds and get the layout for my hero and heroine’s stay at a fictionalized version of Osterley Park. As I walked the area, my plot grew.
Lastly I needed to research the city of Bangor, Maine and the logging industry of 1815, before Maine had its statehood. It was still a part of Massachusetts and known as the Maine Territory. But following the War of 1812, those involved in the lumber industry were making a sizable profit cutting down the majestic pine trees of the Maine forests and selling them for ship masts, lumber, and shingles both to Europe and to the American cities farther south. My plot advanced as I imagined my hero going from the ballrooms of London to the rough lumber camps of the Maine woods in winter, then risking his neck on a river drive in spring as the picture below depicts:
Of course my hero is a former soldier, who survived the Battle of Waterloo, so he is used to danger. But as a Redcoat among Yankees, he must face many challenges before being accepted into the ranks of the lumbermen. All for the sake of winning the girl.
I hope those who read the updated version of A Rogue’s Redemption will enjoy both the historical detail as well as the timeless love story.
In my ruminations on the male characters in Pride & Prejudice, I first decided I might discuss them from the least important (in my eyes) to the most important, Mr. Darcy, of course. Or perhaps, I would discuss them from Mr. Darcy to each lesser character. A third option might compare the men from Lizzy’s sphere with the men associated with…Mr. Darcy.
Do you begin to see my dilemma? Jane Austen wrote a book about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and amazingly ties each male character to the leading man in an intricate way while creating, at the same time, very individualized, stand-alone men in their own right.
So it seems I must discuss each character’s wonderful foibles and personalities (in no particular order) and how they re-make Mr. Darcy into who he becomes, the hero in one of the greatest love stories ever written (opinion mine).
Let us first examine Mr. Bennet. Considered a gentleman, he allows his children, especially Elizabeth, to be who they want to be not who they should be. Lizzy, with her love of books and wonderful sense of the ridiculous, becomes his obvious favorite as the one most like him. And he plays a significant part in Darcy’s preference for Elizabeth.
In describing the really “accomplished” women of the day, Darcy adds, “…and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” Darcy is already interested in that quality in Elizabeth, one fostered by Mr. Bennett.
She and her father also have their share of fun at Mr. Darcy’s expense until Mr. Bennett discovers what he believed about Darcy to be untrue. Darcy’s intervention in the case of Lydia and Wickham was the eye-opener and he was finally pleased to say to Elizabeth, “I could not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to any one less worthy.” Mr. Darcy began the process of putting himself out for others out of his love for Elizabeth.
Next is the sweet, loveable Mr. Bingley.
I wished to start out with him because he establishes the connection with the Bennetts that allow us to be introduced to Mr. Darcy’s harsher side. We cannot learn of it any other way because the evil of Mr. Wickham cannot begin this early in the story.
But it is through this amiable relationship that we also see a wonderful change in Mr. Darcy. He convinces Mr. Bingley that Jane Bennett does not care for him, but we know it is her low birth that Darcy disdains. He will stick to his story even in the writing of his letter to Elizabeth at Rosings, “…I shall not scruple to assert that the serenity of your sister’s countenance . . . gave me the conviction that . . . her heart was not likely to be easily touched.”
He becomes forced to rethink his actions and in the end must apologize to his adoring friend. The character development of Mr. Darcy through Mr. Bingley is wonderful, compliments of Jane Austen!
Shall we move on to Mr. Collins? Who but Ms. Austen could create such a character?
He is a buffoon, a name dropper, a sniveling little man (no matter which actor of choice portrayed him) with a self-righteous piety that lasts only until his benefactress is conjured up by himself or another.
We start out believing Jane created him solely for our enjoy enjoyment, comic relief if you will. But his connection to Darcy is ingeniously interwoven through Lizzy’s best friend, married to Mr. Collins, at Rosings where Darcy has easy access. Elizabeth needed the connection of Mr. Collins at Rosings to allow us to see Darcy in a different light. Well done, Jane!
Ah! The infamous Mr. Wickham… When he appears, we are pulled into his ruse and we can now abhor Mr. Darcy as Elizabeth does. And Ms. Austen adds the twist that Lizzy may have found her match and we sit on the edge of our seats to see.
But Wickham is nothing without his connection to Mr. Darcy. We had to see Darcy’s egotism and snobbery before we could believe the terrible accusations. And it is Wickham’s character development into total degradation with Lydia that allows us to begin to see Darcy in a new light.
New characteristics he declares are only for Elizabeth’s sake, but allow us to begin a love affair with him after chapters and chapters of disliking him heartily.
I’ll declare that Jane Austen never got a note from her editor that her manuscript needed more conflict! She is the queen of conflict in P & P.
We shall end with our hero, Mr. Darcy. I sometimes think technology has ruined literature more than enhanced it. I have opinions on each of the actors who have portrayed this hero but I must be sure to base my thoughts on Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy and not an actor.
So when I sit down with the book, all faces disappear and I read and re-read the story always culminating with the picture perfect hero (my own imagination inspires the way he looks) in an amazing love story.
The changes that occur through the pages are all linked to the other male characters enough that we see Mr. Darcy become a new man, not only for the love of Elizabeth, but because he has seen his own shortcomings through the men with whom he interacts.
I look forward to hearing other readers’ perspectives on their favorite characters. I fancy there are as many opinions out there as there are readers! This week we’re giving away a lovely copy of Pride and Prejudice. The book is hard cover with a ribbon book mark. The pages are rough cut to simulate the cut edges an original print would have had after binding. All comments on this week’s posts will be entered in the drawing. Must have a United States mailing address in order to win. Winner will be announced August 19, 2013.
Laurie Alice here: Today, I invited Josie Riviera to present the Monday history post, for gypsies, “travelers” as they are called today, have played rolls in many Regency romances over the decades of the genre.
Josie has also offered to give away a copy of her e-book, Seeking Patience. Leave your comment, and let’s talk about your impression of gypsies.
Note: Only comments on this post are eligible to win. I will announce the winner when I next post on Regency Reflections on March 15, 2013.
“Gadje Gadjensa, Rom Romensa.” This is a Romany (Gypsy) saying that means “Gadje with Gadje, Rom with Rom.”
or “Mashkar le gajende leski shib si le Romenski zor.” “Surrounded by the gadje, the Rom’s tongue is his only defense.”
So what is a gadje? A gadje in the Romany language means “not one of us.” Many Rom prefer to not allow outsiders (us) into their lives. It’s no coincidence that in my hours, days, and months of researching the Romany for my novels, little information was available. Odd, because the Rom have lived in many places throughout the world for centuries. They’re a widely-traveled people. Yet there is little written history regarding their origins, although recent evidence points to an emigration from India 1500 years ago.
Some believed that The Rom originated in Romania, but they didn’t. “Rom” means “man” in the Romany language.
I believe the reason there is little information available is because the Rom simply prefer it that way. They are a proud people who keep to themselves. And they are nomads, forever on the move, traveling by horse and wagon in caravans. In one of my novels, a bender is described in detail. It is a tent, easily constructed using bendable twigs and any available materials on the side of the road.
The first recorded mention of a Romany in England was 1514.
In England and Wales in the year 1530, King Henry VIII forbid Gypsies from entering the country, and the death penalty was imposed if they didn’t leave within the month. In 1822, the Turnpike Act was introduced, fining any Gypsies camping along the road.
It is no secret that the Rom have suffered persecution, prejudice, exclusion, and discrimination for centuries. The “Gypsy” stereotype includes a criminal, fortune-teller, blacksmith, thief, and musician, a dark-complexioned, shadowy figure. But why do so many of us harbor this unfair prejudice? Perhaps because of the Rom’s nomadic existence, lack of a solid religious belief, and exotic clothes and lifestyle. Their dialect is distinct and related to Sanskrit. Their tradition is oral, for they didn’t have the luxury of building libraries.
I explore many of their beliefs in my novels. One shared by all Rom is cleanliness. Mahrime means unclean or polluted. To avoid mahrime, clothes covering the top half of their body are washed separately from clothes on the bottom. Certain parts of the female body are considered unclean, and doctors are sometimes avoided because they deal with illness. And, a Rom can become polluted by being too close to a gadje.
Beng is a Rom word meaning devil. This evil force continually seeks to dominate a Rom’s life. The dreaded mulo are spirits, always watching, ready to mete out curses and punishments for wrong-doing.
My latest release on Amazon.com, Seeking Patience, is a Regency inspirational romance featuring a half-Romany, half English hero named Luca.
Do people prove their self-worth by strength, or by character?
Luca’s father is an English nobleman, although Luca was raised as a Gypsy. He struggles with his heritage throughout the novel, seeking hope, seeking forgiveness, and yes, Seeking Patience. He is forced to depend on Lady Patience Blakwell, a woman who represents all he loathes. She struggles with her faith, trying to understand why God is not following the plan she had for her life—to be loved and cherished by her husband. After her husband’s unexpected death, her grown stepson charges her with her late husband’s murder.
And Luca must decide whether he should turn away when she needs him, or risk his most vulnerable, forgiving self to keep her safe. By denying his English heritage, has he denied a part of himself?
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.
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.
UNICEF, Human Rights Council, ABC News, 8/12/2012
Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.