How Louise M. Gouge Came To Write Regencies and a Giveaway!

Guest post by Louise M. Gouge

It all began with Jane

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

I have always loved stories set in the Regency period. One of my earliest movie memories is of watching Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in the old black and white Pride and Prejudice. What a romantic story! I never even noticed that the costumes were definitely not from Jane Austen’s era. Later, I took a graduate class in Austen and loved reading all of her books. When the 1994 A & E version of Pride and Prejudice came on television, I was enthralled by the spectacular production. But I never considered writing a Regency romance because I wasn’t sure I could capture all the nuances of the era. There were just too many details I didn’t know about it.

Who, me?

But then I got tricked into it. I had just completed a Revolutionary War series and was wondering what to offer my editor in my next proposal. She solved my dilemma by asking me to write a Regency novella to be paired one by Deborah Hale, an experienced Regency author. I don’t know about you, but when my editor asks me to write a book, I say yes. The opportunity to share a book with Deb was icing on the cake.

So now I faced a challenge. As a reader, I don’t care much for careless or nonexistent research. As a writer, I endeavor to create interesting stories that take place in realistic settings. You may say, “Well, duh! Doesn’t every author want that?” But haven’t we all been pulled out of a story by some nagging little plot device we know could not have happened in that particular time period? Devoted Regency readers are particularly sensitive to such errors. I didn’t want that to happen with my story.

A LAdy of Quality Cover
Louise’s latest Regency offering ~ proof that she mastered the genre.

Help arrives

Fortunately, I had the help of our good friend, Laurie Alice Eakes, an amazing author who knows the era well. She answered my pesky questions and insisted that I join the Beau Monde chapter of RWA. There I could ask the research mavens for help. And believe me, I did!

Well, I finished my novella, and by then I was hooked and ready to propose a full Regency series. After reading in another author’s lovely book that included a rather pathetic minor character who was a lady’s companion, I knew that had to be my subject. I came up with three different aristocratic young women who were forced by circumstances to go to work as companions. As you readers and writers of this era well know, it was shameful for aristocrats to work at any job, so my heroines were all bound to suffer Society’s disdain. Yet paired with the right hero, each lady found her true calling: marriage to the man of her dreams and a happily-ever-after life. So far, only a few tiny errors have crept into my books, but I welcome any corrections so I can get it right the next time.

Success!

By the way, that novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride, earned second place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Awards, so I was more than pleased with that.

My brand new release, A Lady of Quality, is the third in my “Ladies in Waiting” series. Catherine Du Coeur is determined to uncover the truth about wealthy Lord Winston, who falsely accused her father of treason. But the closer she gets to the handsome young nobleman, the more she wonders how such a benevolent gentleman could have conspired to commit such evil. Baron Lord Winston has had little success in finding an accomplished aristocratic bride who is suited to his diplomatic aspirations. But when he meets Miss Du Coeur, a countess’s lowly companion, he finds that family connections are far less important than matters of the heart.

Louise M. GougeAward-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction for Harlequin’s Love Inspired imprint. In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 novel, Hannah Rose. With her great love of history and research, Louise has traveled to several of her locations to ensure the accuracy of her stories’ settings. When she isn’t writing, she and her husband love to visit historical sites and museums. Her 2011 Regency novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride, earned second place in the prestigious Inspirational Readers Choice Award.

One lucky commenter will win their choice of one of the Ladies In Waiting books. Leave a comment telling us why you started reading regencies to be entered to win!

Contest is now over. Look for Louise’s latest novel wherever you buy books. 

The Chimney Sweep ~ Guest Post by Louise M. Gouge

Louise M. GougeRegency Reflection is happy to welcome Louise M. Gouge to the blog today. Be sure to check out Louise’s new book, A Suitable Wife after reading the article below. 

Thanks for stopping by, Louise!

Christmas Tree and Fireplace

Nothing can cheer up a wintery night more than a fire in an old-fashioned fireplace, especially at Christmas time. Although today most of us have other methods of heating our homes, we enjoy the nostalgia generated by a cozy blaze so much that we put up with all the work that goes into maintaining our hearth.

In Regency times, of course, people had no choice but to warm their homes with a wood or coal fire. Wealthy people had the advantage of having servants to keep the home fires burning. But when it came time to clean the chimney, a specialist was called in: the chimney sweep.

Chimney Sweep Boy With Tools

 

Armed with their circular brushes and metal scrapers, these men removed all of the caked on soot and ash that could cause a larger fire and perhaps even burn down the entire house. In order to remove the flammable matter from the smaller upper reaches of the chimney, the master sweeps would buy small boys (from desperately impoverished parents) and force them up inside the cold flue to scrape away the dangerous substances. No child labor laws protected these little “climbing boys,” and countless numbers of them suffered stunted growth, lung disease, sterility as adults, and early death from breathing in the soot.

A Chimney Sweep and his climbing boyToday we are shocked and saddened to hear of any form of child abuse, and efforts are made to save children in similar dangers. Even during the Regency era, many godly reformers sought to make changes in social inequities. But it was not until 1864 that Lord Shaftesbury succeeded in eliminating the use of “climbing-boys” through the Act for the Regulation of Chimney Sweepers, which established a penalty of £10.00 for offenders. That was a hefty sum in those days.

When I learn such an interesting historical fact, I like to incorporate it into my stories so that my readers can get a realistic picture of the past along with the romance. Although I didn’t plan this particular scenario to link the first two books in my Ladies in Waiting series, it turned out that in the first book, A Proper Companion, my hero’s titled brother had a severe bout of pneumonia and almost died. Then Lord Greystone became the hero of A Suitable Wife, so it was natural for him to have great empathy for anyone with breathing problems. When he encounters two little brothers. . .but that would give away too much of the story. Let’s just say that Lord Greystone’s efforts would have made Lord Shaftsbury proud.

A Suitable Wife Book CoverHere’s the story: It’s an impossible attraction. Lady Beatrice Gregory has beauty, brains—and a wastrel brother. With her family fortune squandered, her only chance of a Season is as a lowly companion. London’s glittering balls and parties are bittersweet when Beatrice has no hope of a match. Still, helping Lord Greystone with his charitable work brings her genuine pleasure…perhaps more that she dares to admit. Even when every marriageable miss in London is paraded before him, the only woman to capture Lord Greystone’s attention is the one he shouldn’t pursue. Attaching himself to a ruined family would jeopardize his ambitions. Yet Lady Beatrice may be the only wife to suit his lord’s heart.