Retro Read: The Country Gentleman by Fiona Hill

The Country Gentleman by Fiona HillAnn Guilfoyleis a wealthy and independent young woman in Regency England, with her life planned before her. She opens her drawing room to what she considers the creme de la creme of thinking people and she intends to marry the exact right man. Then financial tragedy strikes and she finds herself 200 miles from London trying to settle herself into country life, a fate worse than death for a woman who considers herself sophisticated and intellectual. She thinks she can only mock thegentleman farmer Mr. Highet and his “gargantuan” mother. In short, Ann is a snob who thinks this country gentleman beneath her, yet when a different tragedy strikes, this one of the heart, she accepts his offer of help and her attitudes and heart begin to change.
This is not a story full of suspenseful, page-turning moments. The pace is almost as leisurely as the country life about which Hill writes. Yet the way in which Ann grows as a woman is so heart-warming, along with the love story, I have always listed this book among of my top fifty Regencies and worth the reread from time to time.
You will likely only find this sbook in llibraries or used bookstores. I’ve seen it for as little as $.01, which is a pity, and it is a quarter of a century old, definitely among the clean, sweet traditional Regencies of old, with an author who is a master character-driven storyteller.

Laurie Alice Shares A Secret

Laurie Alice here,

This month, I am writing about the first book I ever read by Jo Beverley, a book that got me hooked on Jo as an author.

The Stanforth Secrets.

Stanforth Secrets
Stanforth Secrets

Though the widowed Chloe Stanforth loves her house by the sea, a series of puzzling incidents has left her unsettled and anxious to find a new home. Her situation is complicated by the arrival of her husband’s cousin, for whom she has long harbored a deep and guilty attraction.

Back from the war, Justin Delamere hopes he can finally woo Chloe, until he suspects her guilty of treason-and murder. Can he trust the woman he’s always desired, and can Chloe surrender her most private secrets to the man who controls her freedom and now her heart?

As a long-time mystery lover, the notion of a Regency mystery thrilled me, and this book did not disappoint. I loved all the odd clues and details the author used, so Regency and so country-house mystery. She captures both genres well in this lovely little book.

A couple of months after I read this book, I met Jo Beverley. She had long since moved on from writing traditional Regencies. Indeed, Walker Publishing had stopped publishing Regencies by this time. I told Jo how much I enjoyed the book. After thanking me in her gracious way, she then told me she would never write such a book again. She said having to worry about everyone in the house was too much trouble. “You have to think about all the servants.” Spoken in her lovely Lancastrian accent, “servants” came out almost three syllables with the barest hint of an r on the first emphasized syllable.

The author charmed me nearly as much as that first book and most of her books since.

Although The Stanforth Secrets was published in 1989, it is now available on Amazon. Highly recommended to those who want a clean, traditional Regency romance along with a fun mystery.

Originally posted 9/28/2014.

Marriage A Glimpse Of Heaven Or Hell

Vanessa here,

Glad you can join me here, today. Well, the porch at the Regency Reflections Blog now possesses new paint, a bit of a makeover. We’ve been posting here since 2012. We love being able to showcase different glimpses of Inspirational Regencies, talking about the stories and the motivations behind them. We’ve even given tastes of the Regency romances that hooked us long before the first traditionally printed Christian Regency was released.

But our fire had grown cold.

It was time find our love again.

The reason I write Regencies is because I found my voice in the 1800’s.  It sounds of a woman, with dreams of a happy-ever-after, challenged by the circumstances, the very skin she’s born within. These stories, gifted by my first love, a passionate, merciful God must be told. It is my first love. And this blog will now share stories of authors and characters who possess the same fire.

Now some of my friend’s stories may be secular authors.  Before you throw holy water at me, I just have to say it. Not everyone is meant to entertain the pews. All types of stories are needed to edify, entertain, and to educate. All of my friends, regardless of what they write use their God-given talents to bring joy and hope into this world. This is something all should see.

 


The Fabulous Jude Knight


My first guest is the wonderful Jude Knight.  Jude traveled all the way from New Zealand to have tea with me on my Atlanta porch. Jude writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humor.

“Jude, I know you must be tired, so have a seat. Let me fix you some tea. How would you like it?”judeknight

“Thank you, so much for your hospitality. I’d like a green tea with a slice of lemon, or black tea with a small dash of milk.

“Green it is. Here you go. It’s quite hot. While it cools, tell the good readers what a happy ever after means to you.”

“My view of ‘happy ever after’ is shaped by my life and my beliefs. Falling in love is not enough. A wedding is not enough. Good intentions are not enough. To believe that a romance has a happy ending, I need to believe that the couple’s love will last for a lifetime; that they have what they need to work out the inevitable problems that will try to tear them apart.”

“I don’t mean to get you kicked out of any ‘ABA’ bad girl societies, but tell me what love and faith means to you.”

“My beloved and I have known one another for 47 years, and been married for nearly 44. In that time, our love has been tested over and over, but each challenge we’ve surmounted has made our relationship stronger.
I joke that our marriage has survived because his parents and mine were both against it, and we were too stubborn to admit they were right. He always adds that it also survived because we lived at the end of a long country road and were very poor. Walking out on the marriage would have meant a literal walk — and it was a long way.”

“I love that. Please continue.”

“More to the point, though, we both believed that we had to work things out. Our Christian faith told us that marriage was a permanent commitment. We promised ‘as long as we both shall live’, and we meant it. And we both came from fractured marriages; we knew what disharmony did to children. We were determined to find our ‘happy ever after’, and we did.”

“Tell me how your beliefs have shaped your writing.”

“My husband is a Catholic, and I converted to Catholicism some eight or nine years after we first met. Catholic marriage theology holds that marriage is a sacrament — a visible sign of the presence of God in the world. Just as water is the sign of Baptism, and the bread and wine are the signs of the Eucharist (Holy Communion), so the man and the woman are the sign of Marriage. Water signifies (and becomes) the cleansing grace of God. Bread and wine signify (and become) the presence of Christ in the church community and each individual. The couple signify something very wonderful: Christ’s union with the Church, God’s union with His creation. A person could spend a lifetime thinking about the implications of this, and some people have.”

“Wow. That’s deep. I’m Baptist, and I get it. More so, I feel the same.”

“For today, suffice it to say that building the kind of marriage that is a true signifier of this mystery is not a magic trick taking place in front of the altar on a couple’s wedding day. It is the work of a lifetime together.”

“Ok, tell the good folks about A Baron for Becky.”

“A Baron for Becky is my Regency about marriage, which is why it is a book of two halves. In the first part of the book, my heroine — rescued from dreadful danger — becomes the mistress of a kindly libertine whose view of marriage is extremely jaundiced. Their relationship is founded on lust and convenience on his part, and gratitude on hers.”

“Did I mention to you to tell the PG version for Regency Reflection readers? Just kidding. So in a A Baron for Becky, the heroine makes wrong choices, but that didn’t disqualify her from finding true love. Now that is a message for today.”

“Yes. The second half of the book is about just that between, Becky and Hugh. The libertine arranges their marriage, which takes place at the midpoint of the book. But Becky and Hugh build that marriage. I poured my heart into showing them falling in love; showing how their past experiences almost destroyed them; showing the slow painful process of rebuilding.”

“He was sorry for hurting her, for not trusting her, for manipulating her into marriage, for being a representative of the men that had hurt her. He was sorry for it all, and he could never make it up to her. But he would live his life trying.”

“Dear hubby and I just made 19 years. An accomplishment in this age, but tell us your 44-year secret.”

“The trick of a happy marriage (and a happy life) is to go on loving one another between trials, and to consistently fall in love with the same person, over and over and over. Because love is not about being in love, pleasant though that state is. Love is an action, not a state, not a feeling. Love is making breakfast for the person you want to brain with the frypan. Love is listening to the same joke for the twentieth time and laughing yet again. Love is walking hand in hand for no better reason than that you are fond of one another. Love involves feelings: lust and affection, familiarity and friendship, mutual respect and regard. It grows on shared experiences, memories—both good and bad—of the things you’ve lived through together. But above all, love is what you do when your feelings prompt you against being loving.

How could it be otherwise when love is an echo of Love Himself, the One who loved His people even though they betrayed him, rejected him, and even killed Him? Love is far too important to depend on chemical soup. Love is an action.”

Now that is a message to kick off the new Regency Reflections. Thank you Jude. While my friend takes a swig of her green tea, I just want to thank her for traveling to Atlanta and being my guest. Below is more about Jude and links for A Baron for Becky.baronforbeck

About Jude Knight

Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

Follow Jude on social media:

Visit Jude’s Website http://judeknightauthor.com/

Like Jude on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JudeKnightAuthor

Buy links

Amazon http://amzn.to/1C3hFNl

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1H3YmTk

Amazon Aus http://bit.ly/1HzUZ9R

Smashwords http://bit.ly/1HzUXPf

Barnes & Noble  http://bit.ly/1GRTvkR

iBooks http://apple.co/1FVFNfU

Kobo http://bit.ly/1NzI2LK

 

Barbara Cartland’s “Curse of the Clan” Set in 1822

100_8609Dame Barbara Cartland wrote over 723 books.  Known for setting her novels in the Victorian era, she was an exceptionally popular novelist, peaking in the 1970s.  (I remember my mother reading her novels.)  After recently picking up two Cartland books at a used book sale, I was pleasantly surprised to find  The Curse of the Clan (published in 1977) to be quite satisfying.

Imagine my further delight that the novel is set in 1822.  Set in the late “Regency” to be sure, the tale follows an orphan who is elevated to the title of Scottish Duchess.  Her fearsome, yet handsome husband marries her to gain revenge upon a neighboring clan who foisted an adulterous, now-dead, wife upon him.

The story boomed along with vivid action and upon reflection, would make an excellent movie, if historical films were popular. The scenes at the orphanage, a carriage accident (which affected the plot), a shooting attack, revelation of her true parentage, then the winning over of the husband…all would make for a delightful, picturesque movie.
I got a real kick out of finally trying a Cartland book, and wouldn’t hesitate to read more –especially if I can ferret out which were set in the early 1800s.

Have you read any of Barbara Cartland’s books? What do you think?

To Ruin a Lady is Quite Fun

Helloooo, thank you to the Regency authors for letting me join your lovely group. My first Regency is releasing from Love Inspired Historical in September and it was a hoot to write. So much so that I’m at work on another.

A great regency involves just a bit of ruination…at least for the heroine in my current manuscript. But how canI go about ruining her so that she’s forced into a marriage of convenience?

As someone who has enjoyed regency romances since I was a teen, I still have so much to learn. I needed a ruination that was palatable for a Christian audience but still severe enough to force my heroine into the arms of my delectable yet decidedly anti-marriage hero. So the first place I looked was, of course, Google. My dear friend Google.

The search yielded many interesting titles but no specific reasons on why or how a lady could be ruined. I really wanted something concrete. Something unarguable. But that showed my misunderstanding of the Regency period. Thank goodness for writing friends! A dear author friend named who has been writing regencies for years informed me that all it could take is some gossip to rip my heroine’s reputation into tatters.

And so I got to work in creating ruination. After all, my hero and heroine belong together, even if they don’t know it yet!

Has gossip ever hurt you or ruined your reputation? How did you recover?

 

What in the Regency World is a Round Gown?

Susan Karsten here.  I love historic costumes, but am by no means an expert, even though I took the subject in college.  If you are at all like me (Regency fiction reader/fanatic), you’ve come across the archaic and forgotten term “round gown”. Again, if you are like me, you will take a mental guess what that might be, and move on, flipping pages as fast as you can read them.

Image result for round gowns are defined as

 

To the best of my research,  the round gown appears to be a pre-Regency style that hung on, or was used for day-wear even as fashion moved to a different silhouette. Marie Antoinette is said to have inspired the round gown, then a dress and robe joined together and tied in the front  Later came Josephine Bonaparte who ushered in the slim, high-waisted, gossamer thin chemise dress of the early 19th Century, that we think of first when we think of Regency dresses.

Back to the round gown, the Empire gown’s precursor. The round gown had a soft, round skirt silhouette, with full gatherings at a slightly raised waist, a train, and straight, elbow-length sleeves.  The round gown’s train, which was common for a short time for day wear and lasted until 1805-06 for the evening, would be pinned up for the dance, as mentioned in Austen’s Northanger Abbey. One shudders at the impracticality of these long white muslin dresses in England, a country renowned for wet weather and muddy roads.

So, when you encounter the term “round gown” in your favorite Regency fiction, think of probably a day dress, kept for wearing at home, and more modest than their evening counterparts. An earlier silhouette, and not in the first stare of fashion.

I so hope some of you will add to this description with more yummy details about the mysterious round gown.

Reminiscing about the traditional Regency novel

Hi, readers! Susan here with another blast from the past — 1987 to be exact. I expect many of you inspirational Regency-lovers are like me…you loved the older, clean Regencies that were so readily available a few decades ago, published by Signet (my faves), Zebra and the like.

In fact, my efforts toward a fiction-writing career began with a desire to try my hand at writing one of these thrilling, yet clean, romances…with a dash or more of the Christian faith included as a character developing element…sometimes even as a plot twist or a conflict-causing, stake-raising factor.

So today, I am bringing you a review of an old favorite, Mary Jo Putney’s “The Diabolical Baron.”

Book Cover
Book Cover

Don’t let the title throw you, the book is a charming tale of true love, the twists and turns and the happily ever after. With two attractive suitors trying to lay claim to her heart and a father insisting she marry for a fortune, she has deep waters to navigate all the while trying to protect her beloved sister.

If you can find this title, I believe it might be one of your favorites too — though it is not a true inspirational romance. My hopes are that the Regency genre will grow in popularity again, with Christian writers bringing it to the fore.

 

Charming Quotes from Jane Austen

Hello, my Regency-loving friends. Interesting, isn’t it, that the actual Regency last only from 1811-1820, but the periods before and after can also be considered part of the era?  When trying to explain to the uninitiated, what the Regency is, I’ll often bring up Jane Austen. I find that most, but not all, have heard of the book Pride and Prejudice and they can get a grasp on what kind of fiction genre I am writing.104_2304

So, to bring Jane Austen alive again, in our minds only, I bring you some of her delicious quotes.

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.

A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

Based on these quotes alone, I do believe I would have enjoyed know Jane Austen.

Which author would you have liked to spend time with? Answer in the comments, please.

Blast from the Past: Marion Chesney’s Regency novels

Hi all, Susan Karsten here!

…Back from an absence of about four months (that pesky tax job). Since I enjoy Camy’s posts on older regency books so much, I am bringing you info about a book, and its author, and telling you about her extensive and delicious back-list of regency reading fun (over 90 titles). If the author Marion Chesney is not familiar to you — get thee to a bookstore — or library in this case — since she isn’t (boo-hoo) writing regencies anymore.

No, she now only writes fabulously popular cozy mysteries now and you may know her as M.C. Beaton. However, her regencies are GREAT, and with some digging, are still available to the avid fan. She’s got some of her backlist out as e-books lately, too.

Chesney’s debut (writing under her own name) book, which I happen to own, is “The Poor Relation.” Heroine and former debutante Amaryllis Duvane’s fortunes have sunk low and she is reduced to the status of serving her wealthier relatives. Her past love, the Marquess of Merechester, shows up to court one of these wicked stepsister types, and the drama begins.

100_6459

I’ll happily admit to being a huge fan of Chesney, in all her genres. But the chance to read one of her first efforts makes me admire her career trajectory even more. As one familiarizes oneself with her work, it’s clear that as she gained publishing popularity and confidence, more and more of Chesney’s delicious humor comes out on the page. I can only hope to instigate half as many snickers for my own readers…someday…when I make my debut!

If you’ve ever enjoyed Chesney’s regencies, please add a comment.

Susan Karsten

I

Poll: How to do you find new Regencies to read?

Camy here! I was having a discussion with a friend about how Regency romance lovers find new Regencies to read.

I usually do it by word of mouth—recommendations from readers on a Goodreads group forum board, or from blogs like this one.

I was curious how you find the new Regencies you read/buy/borrow?

You don’t have to do this, but what I did was go look through my book catalogue database. I use Booxter, which is a Mac program that enables me to enter all the books I’ve read and/or own. I can organize it and search it as I like, which makes it very useful. I went to all the Regency romances I have and sorted it so that I could see the last 10 books I most recently obtained.

Four books were ebooks I bought from Regency authors I already know I enjoy. I get their newsletters and when they had a new Regency available on ebook, I bought it.

Two books were given to me as gifts from a friend who had extra copies of an author’s books.

Two books were free ebooks that I saw advertised somewhere, either on Facebook or BookBub.

The last two books were actually two of three books that I got from Paperbackswap. They are out-of-print Traditional Regency Romances that were published by Signet in the 80s and 90s and are now only available as used paperback copies.

(On a side note, I really wish these old Regencies were available as ebooks! However, I know there’s a lot of factors involved in putting an out-of-print book out in ebook—who owns the rights, if the right-holder has the resources or the time to format the book for e-publishing and get the cover, write the blurb and metadata, upload it to the websites, etc.)

So … how about you? You don’t have to be as exact as I did, but how do you find new Regencies to read and/or buy?