Guest Post: Why the Classics Live On

Regency Reflections is happy to welcome Marisa Deshaies. Marisa is a lover of Inspirational Regencies and recently obtained her Master’s degree in professional writing. 

Walk into any bookstore or watch previews of upcoming movies, and you’ll surely come across numerous advertisements or displays of classic stories written many years ago. Barnes and Noble consistently presents a few tables of the Classics in its stores.  Every few minutes a trailer for Les Miserables or Anna Karenina shows on television. With each bestseller and Oscar-worthy movie comes a retelling of one of the well-known stories taught in English classes.

Original title page of Pride and PrejudiceWhat is it that endears the public to the Classics? With the advent of three-dimensional directing, popular vampire lore, beloved magical adventures, and modern romance stories that fill the bookshelves and movie theaters, audiences do not lack amusing entertainment. Critics could argue, in fact, that Austen, Dickens, and Tolstoy are authors of the past. Why look back when there are unknown tales waiting to be told?

And yet, retellings of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and other Classics continue to come to theaters and bookstores in droves. Whether authors create fan fiction of the beloved novels or directors discover new techniques with which to tell the stories, without a doubt some retelling is bound to catch your fancy.

Elizabeth-Bennet-and-Mr-Darcy-played-by-Elizabeth-Garvie-and-David-Rintoul-in-Pride-and-Prejudice-1980Jane Austen’s novels are a particular favorite of authors and directors alike to recreate and maneuver to the readers’ and viewers’ delight. In the two hundred (almost) years since Austen’s novels first hit the market, the fan fiction and movies created for audiences are too numerous to count. Pride and Prejudice, in particular, is an audience favorite. Can you blame the viewers of the 1990s BBC-miniseries version for watching the movie numerous times—after all, who doesn’t enjoy watching Colin Firth walking out of Pemberley’s lake dripping wet? (Try to keep your anger in check, P and P novel enthusiasts. We know this scene doesn’t occur in the book.) Austen, known best for her characters that pursue love in spite of difficult situations, wrote novels that connect with young and old, male and female alike (although females probably enjoy the stories more than their male counterparts). Turning these novels into fan fiction and movies is a sure-fire way to connect with book readers and movie watchers.

Pride and Prejudice 1995So what is it about the Classics that resonates so soundly with audiences? With Austen retellings, I’m convinced that readers and viewers live vicariously through the characters. Yes, every movie-goer and novel-reader places themselves in whatever their escape pleasure is—that’s the point of reading or watching, isn’t it? To be swept away to another world? Google-search the Jane Austen Festival, and you’ll see that while Persuasion doesn’t have witches or goblins and Emma doesn’t take place in a haunted mansion, readers of Austen novels and viewers of the novels’ movie counterparts are just as swept away by the stories as anyone reading Harry Potter or Twilight. Men and women dress in Regency costumes, attend balls, put on theatricals, and host luncheons and dinners, all in the fashion of Jane Austen’s time.

Audiences love Austen because her characters live and love through the same situations people experience today. Are you pining for someone you can’t have? Don’t go running to the freezer for Ben and Jerry’s—Pride and Prejudice will give you hope for that relationship much more than a pint of vanilla ice cream will. Contemplating giving relationship advice to your best friend? Read Emma before setting her up with that lothario from work… your friendship will thank you.

Austenland 2It’s simple, really. Readers and watchers (okay, most likely females) enjoy experiencing life in old-fashioned ways. As much as we say modern behavior gives equality between the sexes, anyone who doesn’t secretly desire a Regency courtship is probably in denial. And what about those ball-gowns and gloves? Gorgeous! In reading Austen’s novels or watching the movie adaptations, audiences are brought back to days of propriety. Days of hand-kissing, ballroom-dancing, letter-writing flirtation. Days of familial responsibility and honor. With a willing suspension of disbelief audiences of Austen novels (in any form) go back to a simpler time when true love took hard work and familial loyal was the most important aspect of a relationship. In today’s society of fast-paced activities, internet dating, and individualism, Austen novels and movies emphasize the importance put into marriage and family that simply doesn’t exist today.

Friendship and Folly – A Review

I discovered the most delightful regency romance the other day on Amazon. Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady, Book 1 of the Merriweather Chronicles.

Something that intrigued me from the first was the introduction, where the author explains how she found this manuscript in an old trunk of her grandmother’s, a trunk filled with old journals and manuscripts. She edited the most complete manuscript and has published it as “Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady.” Whether Meredith Allady is her real name, her grandmother’s, or a pseudonym–or pun (Meredith, A Lady?) matters not. Friendship and Folly

What I discovered when I began reading it is a wonderful story told in what I found is an extremely authentic Regency-style, which I why I think it truly is a discovery from someone’s old trunk and not a well-researched historical. There are allusions to historical events and things only someone who lived in the era (and those of us who have done a lot of regency-era research ourselves) are privy to.

The Christian-spiritual thread through the novel is also in keeping with someone writing from that era, very much like Jane Austen. People pray and quote Scripture in a very natural way. It shows how Bible-illiterate our generation has become. The most moving scene happens during the crisis/climax and is very much a Christian lesson.

The story also has the wit of Jane Austen.

If you go on Amazon, though, the author warns those who don’t enjoy Jane Austen or an old-fashioned writing style to please stay away. On Goodreads.com, she tells readers: “For all those readers who loathe the ‘epistolary’ style of narrative, Meredith tenders her heartfelt apologies; but there it is.”

I for one was caught up from page one of this regency story and am glad to see that there is a Book 2 in the Merriweather Chronicles.

A Jane Austen Devotional

My husband and I were in a bookstore one day, where he was looking for a devotional. We were eyeing the shelves full of them in the Christian section when he spied a gem, A Jane Austen Devotional. “That’s the one,” he said. That’s why I love him, he’s an Austen devotee like me! Jane Austen devotional
This devotional compiled and written by Steffany Woolsey and published by Thomas Nelson is not divided by days but by subject matter. A listing includes: Being Generous, Christ’s Unconditional Love, Vanity’s Folly, Faithfulness, Unhealthy Friendships, etc..
Under each section, an excerpt from one of Jane Austen’s novels is included and then a commentary on the spiritual theme gleaned from her writing, since Jane Austen lived in a time when the Bible was the standard of moral authority in Great Britain. Any educated person such as Jane would be well-versed in Scripture, especially as the daughter of a rector in the Anglican church. Her writing reflects her Christian beliefs, even when she pokes fun at certain clergy (remember Mr. Collins?)
In A Jane Austen Devotional under the heading “Being Generous” for example, a segment from Sense and Sensibility is used in which Mr. Dashwood discusses with his wife how much he should give to his bereaved stepmother in order to fulfill his deathbed promise to his father to take care of her. Throughout their conversation he allows his wife to talk him out of giving her anything he originally had decided upon. The author uses this illustration of mean-spiritedness to contrast with Biblical teaching, citing Matthew 15:18 where Jesus talks about the things that defile a person—those that proceed from the heart. The teaching of Jesus regarding generosity is then shown using Mark 12:42-44 in which Jesus compares the poor widow who leaves two small copper coins in the offering box in the temple to a richer person who gives out of his abundance.

Jesus calls us to imitate the widow, who gave so generously out of her poverty. As Woolsey sums up in this segment, “When we choose this route, He [Christ] can begin to develop in us qualities such as generosity, kindness, and compassion.”

For anyone who appreciates Jane Austen’s irony and wit, this devotional is full of snippets of her scenes with a parallel from Scripture on each facing page. My husband and I have enjoyed every entry we’ve read.

 *  *  *

Ruth Axtell hasRuth Axtell (2) written several Regency romances. Her latest series is called London Encounters. Book 2, A Heart’s Rebellion, came out in March. The Rogue’s Redemption, set in both Regency London and frontier Maine, came out in December. She also writes novels set in Victorian England and late 19th century Maine.

Spiritual Truths Abound in “The Soldier’s Secrets”

Hi, all! Susan Karsten here…I’m bringing insights on the spiritual themes found in        “The Soldier’s Secrets” the latest release by our own dear Naomi Rawlings.

Not only does author Naomi Rawlings deliver a compelling read with this historical romance set during the early days of the French Republic, she gently brings home some serious spiritual truths.

The importance of honesty and truthfulness is drawn out in an unusual way. Both the hero, Jean Paul, and the heroine, Brigitte, are brought low by dishonesty. The unusual aspect of this is that some of their troubles are of their own doing. So often, we find idealistic, too-perfect heroines and heroes–this is not the case in this gripping novel.

Brigitte and Jean Paul should have abided by the following verses:

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight….Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool…2 Corinthians 8:21 For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man….Proverbs 6:16-20 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Forgiveness is another strong theme in “The Soldier’s Secrets“. To receive God’s forgiveness, to forgive other people who sin against you, and to forgive one’s self are all treated in the midst of this historically accurate gripping story.

Here are some pertinent verses on the facets of forgiveness–we can all keep in  mind:

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you….Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Leave a comment to be entered in a giveaway of a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets and a History Channel documentary: The French Revolution. 

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's Secret
French Revolution DVD

 

I hope you read The Soldier’s Secrets — I think you’ll be happy you did. Leave a comment on your favorite verse on forgiveness or honesty. Thanks!

Susan Karsten
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One, Two, Three… Dance With Me. A Wondrous Set With Julie Klassen

“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.

Vanessa here,

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.

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

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 Screen Shot 2013-10-08 dance classloves 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.

Julie Klassen at the Ball
Julie Klassen at the Ball

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!

If you’d like to learn more about the JASNA conference, here’s a fun video my publisher took of me (in costume) at the event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5KmFKlJlfk

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.”

“Perhaps you should.”

You can purchase your own copy at: Amazon BN Christianbook.com

Julie s Images-Julie Edited Images-0007JULIE 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.

Find Julie at: Her Blog or FaceBook

“A Proper Marriage” A Traditional Regency Reviewed by Vanessa Riley

I was introduced to Modern Regencies, you know the ones written by after Austen, Heyer and Veryan while in college. Nothing I liked more than to unwind with a witty, Regency with everything on the line in the story after calculus.

One novel, A Proper Marriage by Debbie Raleigh is one of my favorites. I reread it each year, at least once.A Proper Marriage

What’s not to love about A Proper Marriage. First, the hero and heroine are married, to each other. Not a marriage of convenience (those are great) or gun-induced wedding from a compromise, but an arranged marriage one year in between noted war scholar, Adam Drake and the formerly free-spirit, Adele Morrow.

Here’s Adam explaining to Vicar Humbly, the man who wed the two, the problem:

Adam winced in spite of himself. “No, I made very certain before we wed that she understood I would not tolerate the scandalous behavior of her parents,” he admitted. “I made a precise list of what I expected in my bride. I even chose her wardrobe to ensure she would not be an embarrassment when we arrived in London.”

“And Addy agreed to this list?” he (Humbly) at last demanded in carefully bland tones.

Adam waved a restless hand. “What choice did she have? Her parents had managed to squander their fortune years ago and only survived in the knowledge they would receive a settlement when Addy and I wed.”

“Ah.” The Vicar nodded in a knowing manner. “Well, you should be pleased. Addy has become a most proper lady.”

“Yes, I should be delighted,” Adam agreed grimly.

“But you are not?”

Adam polished off the brandy in a single gulp. He thought of the months with Addy in his home. No, he was not bloody well delighted.  No man would be delighted to possess a shadow that slipped from his grasp whenever he reached out to take hold.

“It is not pleasant to live with a woman who is clearly miserable,” he conceded with a pained grimace.

Second a smart but bored heroine:

Here’s Addy dealing with a rake.

Addy reached out to reclaim her fan. “I am sensible enough to know you are a reprehensible rake! If you wish to polish your fatal charms you should choose a more gullible victim.”

“You have it wrong,” he (Barclay, the rake) protested. “I have been felled by your beauty.”

She rolled her eyes heavenward, but before she could take him to task for his foolishness, a sudden shadow fell over her.

A familiar tingle of awareness rushed through her and slowly she turned to confront the glittering gaze of her husband.

Third, real arguments about cross-purposed souls with the richness of history, duty, and commitment that you don’t always find with unmarried couples.

He (Adam) had thoroughly ruined her evening and worse, he had wounded her pride with his blunt confession he did not trust her.

Dash it all. It had been uncomfortable enough living with Adam in a state of polite, frozen courtesy. She might have disliked guarding her every word and being abandoned for hours in this great tomb of a house, but at least she did not have to worry over sudden squabbles and sharp words that seemed to cut her very soul.

Through the vicar’s counseling, Addy and Adam manage to reconcile and even find love, with each other.  I adore this book so much, I even cut a trailer for it.

So, if you are looking for a good Regency to curl up with try this old Zebra Regency Romance, A Proper Marriage.

“Gentleman Rogue”,Traditional Regency book reviewed by Susan Karsten

Prepping for this post, I read “Gentleman Rogue” by Barbara Neil, for the third time. I am not usually a re-reader of books, favorites or not. My Regency reading habit is voracious, but I don’t keep the books, unless they are VERY special — I just don’t have the shelf space. Most of my Regency shelf is taken up by paperback editions written by my two favorite authors. Far down to the right end are the other ‘keeper’ books and that is where “Gentleman Rogue” resides.

Front & Back covers
(the blurb does not do it justice)

Quite often, the best traditional Regency books are the ones published by Signet. “Gentleman Rogue”, written by Barbara Neil, however, was published by Harlequin in 1993.

The book is intelligent and hilarious. Enough so that I was willing to read it a third time for this blog, and my husband can attest that I was laughing (chortling) out loud last night.

Hero: Ryder Starr, Heroine: Aurora Valentin (her nickname is little Miss Bishop). The preposterous, yet entertaining premise is that hero Ryder Starr is going around trying to cause scandals which he hopes get back to his nefarious inheritance-stealing cousin. He hopes the cousin will pay him off, via his share of the inheritance, to stop the embarrassing contretemps. His path crosses with the lovely and high-minded Aurora Valentin, and sparks fly, with her resisting all the way.

A favorite quote from “Gentleman Rogue”:

“Perfection is one of those ideals that may have been conceived solely

in order to be dashed.”

This quote is my personal favorite from this book, because I have frequently thought or said similar sentiments.

I have been reading Regencies for about twenty years. I get most of mine at used book stores/sales, thrift stores, and at the library. I enjoy the setting and social mores, and appreciate that most traditional Regencies are “clean” and not full of bedroom scenes, infidelity, and immorality.

I hope you can lay your hands on “Gentleman Rogue” ~ it’s highly enjoyable.

P.S. I believe Barbara Neil also wrote under the name Barbara Sherrod.

 

Naomi here, with a couple of Regency novels to add to your Christmas reading list.

I’ve long been a fan of inspirational romance novels, but I must admit Regency Romance is a rather new addition to my romance collection. The Lady of Milkweed Manor was the first inspirational Regency novel I ever read, followed closely by The Silent Governess. Both are by the same author, Julie Klassen. And while these novels don’t have some of the overt romance that some other Regency stories do, they both do a good job of combining mystery, history, and yes, a touch of romance.

Here’s the description for The Lady of Milkweed Manor:LadyOfMilkweedManor

Even a proper vicar’s daughter can make a mistake…and now Charlotte Lamb must pay a high price for her fall. To avoid the prying eyes of all who know her, she hides herself away in London’s forbidding “Milkweed Manor,” a place of mystery and lore, of old secrets and new birth.

But once there, she comes face to face with a suitor from her past–a man who now hides secrets of his own. Both are determined, with God’s help, to protect those they love. But neither can imagine the depth of sacrifice that will be required.

Scandal, ruin, secrecy, mystery. It’s all very “Regency,” even down to the details of a rich lord taking advantage of a naive young miss. Julie Klassen’s third book, The Silent Governess, is much the same way, and it went on to win some rather prestigious inspirational romance awards. Here’s more about that book:

The Silent GovernessBelieving herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems.

Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley’s secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?

So there you have it, another inspirational Regency filled with secrecy, mystery, class strife, and a bit of love. Both of these stories create a perfect place for inspirational romance and Regency novels to meet. If you’re interested in learning more about this author, we did an interview with Julie Klassen almost two years ago.

Since I won’t be blogging again before Christmas, I hope you all have a very merry one, filled with family, food, and lots of time for reading! 😀

Fallen Angel by Charlotte Louise Dolan

I have been reading Regency romances since I picked up my first one in ninth grade, by accident. Since then, I’ve been buying Regency romances at the bookstore, through reader mail subscriptions, and more recently through garage sales, Goodwill/Salvation Army/thrift stores, and eBay or online used bookstores. I’ve acquired so many paperbacks that I’m not entirely sure where I’ve gotten them from by now, but they’re all waiting on my bookshelves for me to pick them up to read.

9780451175014The most recent book I read was Fallen Angel by Charlotte Louise Dolan. I was on the Traditional Regency Romance Aficionados group on Goodreads.com (not very active, but a neat group) when someone mentioned some books by Charlotte Louise Dolan. Several people recommended Fallen Angel, and I looked through my catalog. Sure enough, I had bought it at some garage sale years ago and it was on my shelf.

I started reading it and was hooked from page one. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Man of Mystery — It was simple for Miss Verity Jolliffe to find out a great deal about Gabriel Rainsford, Lord Sherington. His good looks and wealth were evident His arrogance and ruthlessness were legendary. — Still, a question remained. What could Sherington see in a modest young lady like her, when he had the voluptuous Eleanor Lowndes as his mistress, and the most beautiful belles of the town eager to be his bride? Did he want her as a plaything for his jaded desires? Or as a wife in a mockery of a marriage? Or as a means of revenge on all womankind? But whatever he wanted, Verity feared that one thing was certain. Caught in his spell, she would find it heartbreakingly hard to say no….

Camy here: Okay, I admit the blurb is rather melodramatic and it doesn’t really tell what’s going on in the story. The writer’s style sometimes reminded me of Carla Kelly, but her humor reminded me of Georgette Heyer.

The hero is a bit ruthless, but it’s because he has been unwanted by everyone in his family since he was a child, and he has stopped caring about anyone to protect his own scarred heart. However, his lack of feeling sometimes makes him completely clueless as to women and how to treat them, which turns out to be really funny at times. It reminds me a bit of how Christian Western historical romance author Mary Conneally’s heroes are manly but clueless when faced with a strong woman.

What was really interesting was the heroine’s concept of love. It was so Christlike that I was surprised to see it in a book published in the secular market. She has her own flaws, but it only makes her more endearing and sympathetic. She is also strong and sensible, one of my favorite types of heroines.

9781610847971_p0_v1_s260x420What’s even better is that this book has been released as an ebook by the author. You can also try to get it from Paperbackswap or some similar book trading website. I immediately bought the ebook version since I loved the book so much, and my paperback version was looking a little ratty (I posted my paperback copy on Paperbackswap and it was picked up right away).

I hope you try this book and enjoy it as much as I did!

The Miser of Mayfair ~ A Regency Read

Kristi here.

I didn’t grow up reading a lot of Regency books. It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty that I discovered the era and fell in love with it as a story setting. As I studied the authors that I fell in love with, I discovered a whole list of traditional Regency writers that inspired the authors I knew.

My list of books to look up is long, but I will be forever thankful to the friend who pointed me to Marion Chesney.

Her A House for the Season series was recommended to me and I pass that recommendation on to you.

The first book in the series is The Miser of Mayfair. It isn’t your typical set-up.

The Miser of Mayfair by Marion ChesneyThe setting for the series is a home in London, available to rent but plagued with bad luck. This makes the rent ridiculously low, something Mr. Roderick Sinclair needs desperately if he’s going to take his ward to London for the Season.

The ward, Fiona, is not your typical heroine either. It’s very possible that she is a good bit more than she initially appears to be. Which is a good thing, because if she’s going to make a good match, she has an enormous amount of obstacles to overcome. Not the least of which is a lack of funds, connections, or proper wardrobe.

Enter the wily butler, Rainbird, who plots with Fiona to make her and the beleaguered staff of Number 67 Clarges Street a success.

For me, the book was a refreshing look at the Regency world. The style, plot, and story structure are very different than books I see published today, but that only adds to the story’s charm for me.

Unless you’re lucky enough to find an old copy in a bookstore, The Miser of Mayfair is only available through a Kindle reader. If you’re looking for a fun, easy read while you travel this month, give it a try. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can even borrow it for free.

Have you read The Miser of Mayfair or one of Marion Chesney’s other Regencies? What did you think?