Category: Free Book

Special Announcement! Free Book!

Kristi here and I am very excited to announce that today and tomorrow only (May 15 and 16, 2012), you can get a FREE Inspirational Regency novel!

That’s right, you can own “A Necessary Deception” by our very own Laurie Alice Eakes for free! It’s available as a free eBook on Kindle and Nook. Don’t own a Kindle or Nook? You can get the Kindle app for your PC or smartphone for free! (I just love all this free stuff, don’t you?)

So CLICK HERE to go to Amazon and get your free book. It’s perfect for getting you ready for the next book in the series coming out in October.

CLICK HERE if you want the Nook version.

If you have friends that you want to introduce to the fabulous world of Regency England, this is a great way to do it! Who doesn’t love a free book?

Have you already read “A Necessary Deception”? Get in the comments below and tell everyone how great it is so they’ll go get their own copy. Gotta go now… I’m off to snuggle on my couch and read!

Originally posted 2012-05-15 07:00:00.

Mr. Darcy, An Alpha Male in Love

Vanessa here, exposing some of my pert opinions.

A man losing the battle of the heart is a thing of beauty.  When the male in question is an Alpha man, the dominant, powerful man of the group and protector of those dearest, his torment and ultimate victory is sheer poetry.

I love the classics, but I must say Dicken’s Pip (Great Expectations) languished too much without any measure of success with Estelle.  Pip doesn’t scream Alpha to me. An Alpha would have moved on or found away to convince Estelle to marry him.

Side note: To truly be a successful Alpha hero, you not only have to get the girl, but you have to live to tell about it. The whole dying thing, ruined Romeo and Juliet for me. I guess, I am a sucker for a happy ending, that is a happy ending with a breathing Alpha male.

So what is a good portrait of an Alpha male?

Mr. Darcy

.  He’s Jane Austen’s careful balance of natural male pride, protector, and fear. To surrender to love is a struggle that Darcy fights until he knows the battle is lost.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth asks Darcy when he did he know he loved her. Darcy replies:

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

A collective sigh should leach from this blog screen.  Oh, if Laurence Olivier (1940) , Collin Firth (1995), or Matthew Macfadyen (2005) could have said those words, I’d have their version of Pride and Prejudice DVD on perpetual rewind.


Back to Darcy’s Struggle

Austen showed us glimpses of Darcy’s Alpha journey much more than the movies give credit.

At Netherfield during Jane’s convalescence:

Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music-books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her, was still more strange.

 

After an exchange of teasing between Darcy and Elizabeth at Netherfield:

Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.

The growth of his feelings are displayed in a private exchange with Miss Bingley at Netherfield:

Miss Bingley says: “As for your Elizabeth’s picture, you must not have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?”

Darcy replies: “It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and shape, and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied.”

A Display of His Protective Nature for Elizabeth:

The path just admitted three. Mr. Darcy felt their (Bingley’s sisters) rudeness, and immediately said “This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue.”

But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered: “No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good-bye.”

After a heated exchange with Elizabeth at Netherfield where Darcy’s messaging for sympathy before emotionally retreating:

Elizabeth said, “And your defect is to hate everybody.”

“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them.”

“Do let us have a little music,” cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which she had no share. “Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst?”

Her sister had not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte was opened; and Darcy, after a few moments’ recollection, was not sorry for it. He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.

Upon learning that Jane and Elizabeth would soon leave Netherfield, Darcy believes ignoring Elizabeth will solve his problem:

To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence—Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked—and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it.

At the end of their famous dance at the ball of Netherfield:

“I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours,” he coldly replied.

She said no more, and they went down the other dance and parted in silence; and on each side dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree, for in Darcy’s breast there was a tolerable powerful feeling towards her, which soon procured her pardon, and directed all his anger against another.

 

Side Note: I love when an author uses the phrasing of a man’s breast. It sounds as if the emotions have penetrated his chest armor and gotten very deep inside.

Back to Darcy

The famous first proposal, his bold admission of losing his heart is classic Alpha trying to be in control when love has sent him spinning:

He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began:

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement; and the avowal of all that he felt, and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and, when he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said:

“…I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation.”

Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantelpiece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips till he believed himself to have attained it.

To attain peace cost Darcy two sheets of paper written in close hand, days of searching London;s underbelly, 10,000 pounds of bribe money, countless hours of recalling Elizabeth’s reproof. Priceless.

What I love the most is the sheer masculinity of Darcy’s regard. In a single breath, he tries to ram through the proposal and collect his acceptance. He’s all man as he tries to keep his feelings close to his waistcoat. Even as he exposes a bit of his heart to Elizabeth, he keeps his pride of his accomplishment and stature between them, a wall too high. Only the most ardent love will climb it.

And as he passes his black moment, he asserts to prove his worthiness with compassion and strength. He overcomes all of his own objections to save Elizabeth’s family and prove himself worthy. All alpha male, all the time.

Do you share my Alpha love? If you do leave a comment. Any one leaving a comment on this post or Fridays will receive on Saturday a link for a:

Free copy of Pride & Prejudice for the Kindle, Nook, or IPad.

I’ve formatted the Guttenberg Project’s version into ePub (Nook and IPad) and Mobi (Kindle) formats. I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

References:

The Guttenberg Project

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice, 1940 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production

Pride &Prejudice the Miniseries, 1995 BBC

Pride & Prejudice, 2005 StudioCanal/Focus Features

 

 

Originally posted 2012-05-02 10:00:00.

New Romances by Kristi Ann Hunter

Vanessa here,

It’s my pleasure to have Kristi Ann Hunter on my porch today to talk of her latest novels.  Really, I should have had you here sooner since we are both Georgia Peaches, but we’ve both been a little busy.

Kristi Hunter and I enjoying the music.
Kristi Hunter and I enjoying the music at RWA 2013.

Please have a seat on the pollen free chair. So Kristi Ann what made these stories come to life in your head?

There are always stories in my head. It’s a very noisy place.

Isn’t that always the way. Please continue.

There are a few things I do to streamline my thoughts enough to actually pull a coherent tale together, though. Usually I start with a question, a “What If” sort of scenario, or I start with a character that I’d really like to explore. Once I have both of those pieces, I know I’ve got the basis for a real story.

 

In A Lady of Esteem I started with the idea of Amelia. On the surface, Amelia had everything she needed to make a good connection – respectable family, connections to aristocracy, and a home in a fashionable area of town. Even though she had the necessary elements, they were useless because she had no way to utilize them. She’s a Cinderella figure oppressed by circumstances instead of people. The big question then was what do I do with her?

 

That’s where the big What If question comes into play. What if the servants of London decided they wanted something to happen? These people are so deeply embedded in the lives of the aristocracy that it’s hard to believe they couldn’t do something is they put their collective minds to it. That was the birth of the story.

She said free everyone. Please go find this free romance. http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!a-lady-of-esteem/c2407ALoECover

What do you want people to think about when they read a Kristi Ann Hunter book.

While they’re reading it I hope they’re not thinking much of anything. My books are meant to be an enjoyable escape. I hope the story takes them into the world of Regency England until they’re completely immersed. A laugh or two would be good. Mostly I want them to enjoy the story. Once they’ve closed the book is another story. If an element of the story resonates with them and gets them to think about life a little differently or come to a better understanding about God and how much He loves us, then I consider that a success.

A Lady of Esteem is available now as a free eBook!

Miss Amelia Stalwood may live in London at her absent guardian’s townhouse, but she’s never actually met any nobility, and instead of aristocrats, her closest friends are servants.

Kristi Ann Hunter and Julie Klassen in Regency garb
Kristi Ann Hunter and Julie Klassen in sweet Regency gowns.

Quite by happenstance, she’s introduced to the Hawthorne family and their close family friend, Anthony, the reformed Marquis of Raebourne. They welcome her into their world, but just as she’s beginning to gain some confidence and even suspect she may have caught Anthony’s eye, she’s blindsided by an unexpected twist in her situation accompanied by nasty rumors.

Will she lose her reputation when the world that has only just accepted her turns its back on her, or will she rest in the support of the friends who’ve become like family and the man who’s shared his faith and captured her heart?

It’s free people! : http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!a-lady-of-esteem/c2407 

On September 8th Kristi Ann Hunter’s first full length Regency Romance Will be Available.

A Noble Masquerade will be available everywhere on September 8!

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.NobleCover

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

Let’s all go order a copy:  http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!a-noble-masquerade/c190y

Thanks for visiting with me. Next time I’ll serve cake.

Knitting a Victorian shawl

Hi guys, Camy here!

IMG_1162

My mom taught me basic knitting when I was young, but then I forgot it all as an adult. I wanted to knit again, so I learned from online videos (so awesome! I can hit repeat over and over).

IMG_1153One thing that has fascinated me since I started knitting has been historical knitting patterns. One book I love is Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. There are tons of lacy shawl patterns to knit and they’re all gorgeous. They range from easy to difficult.

I love knitting these patterns because they make me feel like a woman in those times, knitting delicate shawls for an evening by the fire or for a day out in London.

IMG_1150This shawl is called “Large Rectangle with Center Diamond Pattern” in the book. It’s actually a combination of two knitting patterns:

“Close Diamond, Surrounded by Open Stitch” from The Lady’s Assistant by Jane Gaugain, volume 1, edition published in 1847

And

“Vandyke Border” from My Knitting Book by Frances Lambert, first edition published in 1843.

IMG_1165I’ve included links above to the digitized versions of these books, which you can download for free! The books themselves are fascinating, because the patterns and the items women could make represented the industrious needlework of women in the early 1800s. In addition to shawls, women could make mittens, caps, purses, stockings, ruffs, counterpanes, even garters!

For you crocheters, Jane Gaugin’s book also includes crochet patterns, although they’re not very detailed. The book also includes netting patterns.

The shawl I made looks like a complicated pattern, but it’s actually very easy. The center portion repeats the same diamond motif over and over again, and the edging is knitted on, also in a repeating pattern that’s easy to memorize.

IMG_1163I used a lace weight yarn, which is a wool yarn that is very thin, almost like crochet cotton, but it’s very light and lofty. I also used a pretty large needle size for the yarn, so the holes are larger and the lace pattern shows up better.

After knitting, I blocked it, which is basically just dampening it and then pinning it out on my bed to dry, stretching it a little so the lace pattern opens up. Once dry, it stays opened up.

IMG_1168Can you imagine a young Victorian lady throwing this shawl about her shoulders as she heads out for a carriage ride at the park? Or perhaps tucking it about her bodice for modesty as she receives morning callers?

In Victorian Lace Today, Sowerby writes: “Not only did a shawl provide warmth, it was a modest cover-up for décolleté dresses. Mrs. Gaugain (the author of the first knitting pattern I linked to above) suggested that a shawl should be ‘for throwing over the shoulders indoors, or for very young ladies wearing out-of-doors.’”

If any of you are knitters and you haven’t tried lace knitting yet, I encourage you to try it! The first several patterns in this book are super easy, and you can feel you’re a Victorian lady knitting a shawl for an evening out. 🙂 If you’re on Ravelry, here’s the link to my knitting notes.

PreludeForALord lowresTo celebrate the release of my first Regency romance in August, I’m busy knitting away so that I can offer some Victorian lace shawls in a few giveaways I’ve planned! I’ll be giving away several gift baskets with shawls, a violin ornament, and some Jane Austen tea. 🙂 I hope you all will preorder Prelude for a Lord!

A Pressing Engagement: Part 2

If you missed part 1, click here.

Insufferable man. Already planning her future. All of Mama’s wonderful training about reserve fled Sara Hargrove and a groan welled inside. “I’d don’t think I’ll be able to finish this painting. I’m too flustered.”

He took the paintbrush from her tight fingers and slipped it onto the easel’s ledge. “Miss Hargrove, your prospects are endless. Both of the earl’s sons are smitten.”

“The obsessive heir or the humorous flirt, for me?” She shook her head. Maybe Jeremiah Wilton didn’t know her soul. How could the man suggest such poor matches? Providence surely misled her. Her heart sunk even lower.

“I see how they’ve taken notice of you.” His sea blue eyes swept over her as if he hunted for agreement. “My dull nature will stifle you. You must concur.”

Dull? She counted upon his steadfast manner, so like, Papa. For a brilliant man, Jeremiah could be dense. “This must be a courtroom, barrister. You’ve declared your judgment. My feelings are not material.”

He hovered so close she could feel his soft breath on her crown. Pushing away from him, she knocked her easel. Jeremiah thrust his arms about her catching the canvas, but imprisoned her within his embrace. The warm smell of his sandalwood surrounded her, shrouding her in hopeless dreams.

Unwanted tears pregnant in her lashes fell. “Have you come to torture me?”

He eased the canvas back upon the easel, but kept his arms about her. “I didn’t know the strength of your feelings, not until this moment. You do love me?”

“You came to gloat?” She balled her fist and punched at his gut. Her knuckles stung against the iron muscles of his stomach as if she’d hit a metal washbasin. Undaunted, she struck him again.

He grunted and released her.

“Good day.” She picked up her paints and headed toward the house.

“Miss Hargrove. Please don’t go.” The hitch in his voice stopped her.

She wiped her face, then glanced over her shoulder.

Jeremiah, so tall and handsome in his crimson tailcoat and cream breeches, wrenched his arms behind his back. “Miss Hargrove, lovely Sara, I love you. With all my heart, but I cannot hold you to a long engagement. I don’t know how long the war will burn.”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath of the fresh air. The sweet scent of apple wood met her. His confession didn’t salve her heart. Maybe, if she ran to thickest part of the orchards, her composure would return among the hearty trees, her safe haven.

Something yanked on her hem.

Jeremiah’s head covered in thick ebony hair hung near her hip. On bended knee, he gripped the muslin fabric of her paint smock. The proud giant humbled himself at her feet.

“I’m desperate for you. This is against my reason. I shouldn’t propose, but I can’t find a way not to. Accept me?”

“Get up, Mr. Wilton.” With another quick tug on her skirts, she’d be free.

Jeremiah held fast. “I’ll give you the power to dictate our course, but for your sake say no to my proposal.”

“This is a proposal?”

“It is Miss Hargrove, but it’s not rational. It’s inappropriate to obligate you. Say no.”

Did he think mere words could free them from this bond? She licked her lips. “No.”

He swallowed hard then stood to his full height. Head drooping, he kicked a rock with his boot. “Tell…. Tell your father and mother I called.”

Her heart beat hard at his stutter. He’d gotten his way, but maybe his spirit, his proud spirit, was breaking too.

He soldiered away, his shoulders hunched as he marched to his dapple-grey mount.

Could she let him go, forget him? No, he was for her. Since the day she climbed Papa’s tree and witnessed Jeremiah besting the town beaus to save his friend, Jeremiah Wilton owned her heart. “Is this how you wish to leave things, sir?”

“No.” He scooped up his gloves, but hadn’t turned.

“What type of husband will you make, if you can’t admit to be being wrong? And what would it say about me, if I waited for such a man?”

“Perhaps, you’re just as foolish as I?” He trudged back to her, took her hand, and placed it over his heart. “I need to trust that our thoughts are the same, shared of one spirit. I’ll not doubt us again. But, if you find you can’t withstand a long engagement—”

Putting a shaking palm to his mouth, she stopped the voicing of his misgivings. Her gaze lowered from his searching eyes to the gold braiding of his epaulet. Only time would prove her commitment.

Yet, how could he be so uncertain of her character? Perhaps each passing day would lessen the sting.

He moved her fingers, bent his head, and slowly covered her lips. His arms tightened about her as she let his affection deepen. In spite of his words, Jeremiah’s actions seemed clear. He had to love her as much as she loved him.

Tossing her paints, she wrapped her arms about his neck and reveled in his possessive grip of her waist, the heavy coursing of his pulse.

He tugged her closer, snuggling her against the smooth floss of his waist sash. “Come, we must go convince Mr. Hargrove. I know Mrs. Hargrove won’t be happy. They may not give their permission.”

“Mama, may be more difficult to persuade, but who can withstand my Mr. Wilton.” The clouds in Sara’s spirit receded as she slipped her palm into his. They soon trudged the path to the great portico of the main house. “If the war can end by spring, we should take our wedding breakfast on the lawn or even set a table on the entry.”

Jeremiah looked off into the distance. An unreadable expression set upon his thinned lips. “If we can convince your parent, then I’ll make this war as short as possible, even capture Napoleon to return to you.”

 

The Husband Campaign ~ Guest Post by Regina Scott

Like many of the wonderful writers on this blog, I work hard to make sure my stories are true to the historical period, but there are some areas of the Regency that frankly scare me. I am in awe of the writers who can name every battle Wellington fought in or the color of the braid on the 95th Rifle’s uniform. I admire authors who manage to study period medical books without growing queasy. And if you can figure out how to do more than describe the colors of horses as they pull the appropriate carriage to whisk a heroine away to a ball, well, you have my respect.

Regina Scott The Husband CampaignAnd then along came John, Lord Hascot, the hero of my April Regency-set romance from Love Inspired Historical, The Husband Campaign. John who raises hunters, those powerful horses that carried gentlemen into the hunting field and, occasionally, into battle. I was fairly certain I would never be able to think about horses the way John, Lord Hascot, does. Horses are John’s life. But they would need to become the life of any lady he wed. How could I possibly describe Lady Amelia’s response to John’s horses or her own?

Luckily, research led me to an exceptional little book, lovingly recreated online, called The Young Lady’s Equestrian Manual. Though its original publication date of 1838 (taken from material dating from 1829) post-dates the Regency, it is close enough that I felt comfortable relying on it. The manual describes such things as how to choose a proper ladies mount, the various parts of the horse and its accoutrements, and how to mount, manage the reins, and find your seat. It confirms that the way a lady sat upon her horse was very important to many Regency era gentlemen, as this passage indicates:

“A lady seldom appears to greater advantage than when mounted on a fine horse, if her deportment be graceful, and her positions correspond with his paces and attitudes; but the reverse is the case, if, instead of acting with, and influencing the movements of the horse, she appear to be tossed to and fro, and overcome by them. She should rise, descend, advance, and stop with, and not after the animal. From this harmony of motion result ease, elegance, and the most brilliant effect.”

And how, you might ask, can a lady have the best deportment on horseback? The manual explains that as well. A lady must

• Keep her shoulders even but back
• Put no weight on the stirrup
• Incline partially backward
• Keep her head in an even, natural position looking straight ahead
• Hold her elbows steady and near her side, with the lower part of the arm at a right angle to the upper
• Above all, never carry the whip in a way that might tickle the horse.

Got all that? Good, because according to the manual, “Nothing can be more detrimental to the grace of a lady’s appearance on horseback, than a bad position: a recent author says, it is a sight that would spoil the finest landscape in the world.”

All I can say is that I’m glad Amelia gets to ride the horses and I only have to read about them. What about you? Do you ride? Were you given any rules of the road for how to sit on horseback? Are you glad women are no longer constrained to riding sidesaddle?

reginascott11-07mediumAfter 27 sweet historical romances set in the Regency period, Regina Scott knows there is still much to learn. You can learn more about her at her website at www.reginascott.com, her blog she shares with author Marissa Doyle at www.nineteenteen.com, and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/authorreginacott.

 

 

 

 

Book Blurb
The moment John, Lord Hascot, encounters a young woman sheltering in his abandoned stable, his future is sealed. To prevent scandal, and protect Lady Amelia Jacoby from her parents’ ire, he must propose. John’s ability to trust vanished when his former love married his twin brother. Yet he offers Amelia everything she could want, except affection.

Amelia sees John’s true nature shine through when he cares for his horses. But the brooding aristocrat seems determined to keep her at arm’s length. Little by little Amelia will turn Hollyoak Farm into a home, but can she turn a marriage of convenience into a joyful union?

A Walk Through a Botanical Garden in A Heart’s Rebellion

Since most of us in cold climates are thinking spring, I thought I’d take you on a tour of a botanical garden near London, just as my heroine, Jessamine Barry, does about two-thirds of the way through the story.
The hero, Lancelot Marfleet is an avid botanist and he wants nothing better than to invite the woman of his dreams, Jessamine, to view the exotic specimens in the botanical gardens. He knows her father is an amateur botanist, so he hopes Jessamine shares a love of plants and flowers.

paeonia moutan
The botanical gardens in London during the regency period were the largest in the world at the time. Plants had been brought back from all corners of the globe by renowned explorers and botanists such as Sir Joseph Banks on his exploration with Captain Cook. One of the plants introduced to Europe by Banks was the peony, a native bush of China. Lancelot shows Jessamine a specimen, because he knows her father is an avid peony enthusiast.

 

Hydrangea
Woodblock print, ‘Hydrangeas’ by Sakai Ōho (1808-1841)
Victoria and Albert Museum
strelitzia
Strelitzia reginae from the Botanists Repository by Henry Charles Andrews

 

Next, Lancelot leads her to an ornamental bush brought over from Japan by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in the late 1780s, the common bush we know as the hydrangea, or in Lancelot’s terminology, Hydrangea hortensis.

 

 

 

He then shows her an exotic flower brought back by Banks’ trip to the Pacific with Captain Cook. It looks like a waterbird ready to take flight, Jessamine tells him. Appropriately names Bird of Paradise, or Strelitzia reginae, she is properly impressed.

 

 

 

571-3014
Jasminum, William Farquhar Collection (1819-1823)

But it’s when they walk through the hothouses that things heat up (pun intended). Lancelot leads Jessamine toward a very special flower to him, the jasmine, for which her father named her. It’s a vine with a small, white star-like flower with a heady scent. Being so near it causes him to lose his head.

But you’ll have to read the book to find out what he does and how she reacts!

To celebrate the release of A Heart’s Rebellion, I’m giving away two copies of my book. The second giveaway will end Monday, March 31 at midnight. To enter this week’s giveaway, answer this question in the comments below:

What is a famous botanical garden in London, which existed in regency times (which is where Lancelot takes Jessamine)?

Thanks for stopping by Regency Reflections for our Spring Release Extravaganza! Make sure to visit throughout the month of April to read about the other regency books coming out and have a chance at some great prizes.

Ruth Axtell

Saving Miss Caulfield, Part 1 ~ A Short Regency Romance by Kristi Ann Hunter

Regency Reflections is entering it’s third year! To celebrate, we’re giving you a gift. Each month you’ll get a brand new short story from one of our authors. It’s going to be a great year. Thanks for helping us be the home of inspirational Regency readers. 

Saving Miss Caulfield, Part 1

If Miss Bianca Caulfield laughed at one more thing her idiot of a dancing partner said, Landon Sinclair was going to break something. Preferably Mr. Camden Theodore’s toes. Then the cad wouldn’t be able to whisk her away from the protection of her mother and brother under the guise of an innocent quadrille in a London ballroom.  What were they thinking, letting him court Bianca?

He supposed he should call her Miss Caulfield now, but she had always been Bianca to him.

She was easy to spot in the crush of dancers, her blonde hair twisted into the simplest coiffure in the room. Landon caught glimpses of her light green dress as she moved between the other dancers. She was light on her feet, floating through the complicated dance steps without any effort. It was a hard-won grace, Landon knew. He’d spent hours this winter having his feet trampled and his shins kicked as she tried to learn the steps. Her brother sported similar injuries, but one would never know it to see her now.

It would have been a pleasure to watch if she weren’t smiling up at Mr. Theodore.

“Please tell me you intend to start a mill with that fist, Lord Braidstone. This evening could use a good distraction.”

Landon looked down at his hand, surprised to find it curled into a tight ball. With conscious effort he loosened his fingers, stretching them until the knuckles popped. A deep, fortifying breath brought the strong combination of perfume, smoke, and champagne, further reminding him of the conduct expected of a viscount at a social gathering.

He glanced at the speaker, finding the expected grin on his friend’s face. “You let her dance with that shuffler, Caulfield?”

Mr. Giles Caulfield, Bianca’s brother, shrugged and adjusted his coat sleeve. “Why not? He’s well off, popular, and set to inherit a barony.”

“He’s a pompous windbag who lies his way through what should be gentlemen’s dealings and falls asleep in church.” Landon made a point of leaning casually against the wall, crossing his arms to hide any fist-making tendencies he might unconsciously entertain.

Giles adjusted his sleeve again. “Pompous or not, his attention has chased off all other interested beau.” He cleared his throat and tugged at the other sleeve. Obviously the man needed a new tailor. Or perhaps his valet had ruined the coat somehow. “Unless you know of someone?”

Landon cast his eyes about the ballroom. There had to be someone better than Theodore. Anyone was better than Theodore. He would trample on Bianca’s open heart and sweet spirit, breaking the girl Landon had watched grow up. The mere thought of losing the light of her smile made Landon desperate.

“What about Mr. Bertram?” Landon nodded towards the mill owner across the room. A bit old, perhaps, but he was honorable and loyal and able to provide a good life for Bianca.

Giles shook his head. “Too busy with rebuilding after the Luddites smashed his looms. He’s only in Town to visit Parliament.”

True enough. Rumor was he’d let his house fall into disrepair as he tried to save his business. Bianca shouldn’t live in a rundown house. Landon blew his breath out through pursed lips as he looked over the room. That one’s reputation was awful. Another given to drunken routs.

His eyes lit on a tall gentleman entering the ballroom. “Fellbourne?”

Giles shook his head. “Has plans to ask for Presbrook’s daughter.”

The girl who’s dinner conversation was limited to the fit of her slippers? Fellbourne never had possessed high enough standards to appreciate Bianca. “Milton?”

“Debt. He’ll probably be run out of Town within the month.”

Landon jerked his gaze back to Giles. “Truly? I had no idea.”

Giles nodded. “I overheard several shopkeepers today while I was waiting for Bianca outside the milliner.”

“That won’t run him out of town unless he runs up an account at one of the finer establishments. Still, it’s a vise Bianca need not deal with.” Landon returned to scrutinizing the options in front of him, looking for someone ideal and realistic.

“Miss Caulfield.”

What was Giles saying? Bianca was still dancing with that rascal. “Beg your pardon?”

“Bianca. You should call her Miss Caulfield now. At least in public.”

Landon grunted in agreement. For propriety’s sake he should use a more formal address, but there was a much more pressing issue at stake than adjusting his life-long habits.

The dance set was drawing to a close. Soon Bianca would be back at her mother’s side where someone more suitable could ask her to dance. Landon glanced to his left to see if Mrs. Caulfield was still in her previous location. One of Theodore’s friends hovered at her elbow.

“It appears that Theodore is determined that your sister not have any other options.” Landon nodded his head in Mrs. Caulfield’s direction.

Giles gave no more than a glance to the man waiting with his mother. “I believe I mentioned that.”

Landon waited, but it became painfully obvious that Giles was going to do nothing to stop Theodore and his cronies from monopolizing Bianca’s attention. With a sigh Landon made his way through the crowd at the side of the ballroom.

Giles was a dear friend, closer than any of Landon’s own brothers or cousins, but lately he’d been shirking in his brotherly duties towards his sister, leaving Landon to pick up the pieces. They were going to have to talk soon, but first Landon had to save Bianca.

###

Bianca’s face hurt. She’d only been at the ball for an hour and already she was faking the smiles and relying on well-practiced laughter to give the impression of a young woman having the time of her life. In reality she was desperate and growing moreso as the season continued. She couldn’t return home without a secure future.

In truth she couldn’t return home at all. Mother and Giles tried to assure her that Father wouldn’t mind, but they all knew the truth. He’d grumbled for months about the expense of a London season, the uselessness of daughters, and even the size of her dowry, although none of that came directly from him. God bless her grandfather who had left her a decent dowry when he died. Without it, who knows what her father would have set aside for her?

Mr. Camden Theodore was saying something about country estates and the seclusion from Town, but Bianca could barely make out the words over the pounding of her heart and the constant litany of dance steps running through her mind.

They couldn’t afford much time with a dance master, so Bianca had been left to practice with her brother and their generous neighbor, Lord Braidstone. Landon. Bianca swallowed a sigh as she kicked her skirt clear of the next intricate step. She strained her ears to hear the music over the loud talking around her and the fears screaming in her mind.

She brought her thoughts back to Landon. He always had a calming effect on her. Such a mixed blessing. He’d been part of every significant moment in her life, another older brother ready to tease her one moment and rescue her the next.

But he’d ruined any chance she had for marital bliss.

The dance ended and Bianca dropped into a curtsy, looking up at Mr. Theodore through her lashes. She tried to picture him as her husband, but the effort was futile. She couldn’t imagine a cozy dinner at home with his flat eyes across the table or a quiet stroll through the countryside with his constant stream of boasts and gossip as the only conversation.

That may be her life, though.

“Don’t you agree?” he asked with a pat of her hand as he led her from the dance floor.

Bianca smiled. Was the panic reaching her eyes? Because she had no idea what to say and couldn’t blindly agree to a question, not when it was entirely possible he’d asked something crucial to her future happiness. The man spoke often of expediency and efficiency. He might have asked her to marry him on the dance floor to save him a trip to her house.

How to get out of this? “I am parched. Do you think they have lemonade?”

His face screwed up in a frown, the only expression that ever reached his eyes. “Of course. You had a glass before we danced. We missed the first song if you’ll remember.”

A delaying tactic that had caused her to spend more time in his company instead of less. “I had forgotten. It must be the heat. Quite a crush tonight, is it not?”

They reached her mother and Bianca gracefully slid her hand from his elbow, restraining the urge to wipe her glove on her gown. She didn’t want to mar the precious light green silk. It was the only evening gown of color that Mother had allowed.

“I am sure that Mr. Julian can see to –“ His frown darkened. “What are you doing here?”

Bianca spun her head so fast her neck twinged in protest. Mr. Theodore had obviously been expecting his friend, Mr. Julian, to be waiting to claim her for the next dance. Joy, relief, trepidation, and speculation warred for prominence in Bianca’s midsection as she took in the welcome sight of Landon’s tall form standing beside her beaming mother.

Landon raised his brows and looked around as if wondering what wasn’t painfully obvious about his intentions. His brown eyes smiled at her as he brought his gaze back to her. “I’m here to claim Miss Caulfield for the next set.”

“But Julian –“ Mr. Theodore stumbled to a halt.

Mother waved her hand in the air. “Mr. Julian was here, but I sent him to fetch me a glass of lemonade. It is so dreadfully warm in this crush, isn’t it?”

Bianca tried to contain her giggle, but it escaped in an inelegant sputter through her lips. She coughed to hide the embarrassing sound, but ended up sounding like a sick cow as the cough and giggle mingled in her throat.

Landon grinned. “Are you well?”

“Yes, quite.” Bianca forced her lips to curve. Hopefully it looked like a smile. Ice. Brisk breezes. Swimming in the lake at the first sign of Spring. She willed the chilly thoughts to keep the heat of a blush away. Her neck grew warm, but her cheeks remained mercifully cool.

“Shall we?” Landon offered his arm.

Bianca pinched herself as she placed her hand on his elbow. She’d danced countless times with him at home, but never had he asked her at an actual event. He claimed she should keep her dances free for the men vying for her hand and attentions.

Oh how it hurt that he didn’t number himself among those men.

The music started and they bowed to each other. It was a simple dance, one she’d done since she was a girl, which allowed her to focus on her partner. Her handsome, kind, intelligent partner.

He leaned his head down as they stepped between the other couples. “I’ve heard the singer at Vauxhall is quite good.”

Bianca felt a blush threaten her ears. What would he do if she ran her fingers through his dark hair? “I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing her yet.”

“Perhaps we should go then.”

They circled around the other couples in their group until they made it to the end of the line, where they stood facing each other. Bianca was floating. Did he actually want to escort her to Vauxhall? Was he finally seeing her as something other than a younger sister? Her prayers must be working.

Landon smiled across the way at her. “What do you think? Shall we make a party? I’m sure your brother would like to go. Is there someone special you would like me to invite?”

Bianca blanched. He couldn’t mean what she thought he meant. “Special?”

“Yes.” He stepped forward and grasped her hand as they reentered the dance. “Please, anyone but Mr. Theodore. I can’t abide the fellow.”

Bianca tripped over a simple step and stumbled into Landon’s side.

“Oh!” she cried as she righted herself, only to find herself adjusting too much and crashing into the woman on her right.

Landon gripped her arm and righted her with a small laugh. “We’ll simply focus on the dancing for now, hmm? Just like old times.”

“Just like old times,” she said with another cheek torturing smile.

He gave her a brilliant smile as the dance concluded, congratulating her as he always did. And Bianca’s heart broke.

 

The next morning Bianca doodled nonsense on a piece of writing paper, staring out the drawing room window. The Season was nearly half over. Announcements appeared almost daily in the Times. Mother tried not to look worried, but occasionally Bianca found the paper with a name or two circled and she knew another man her mother had hoped to match her with had found someone else.

She was starting to get desperate. Was she to be forced to settle for the first available option? In truth it appeared she was only to have one option. And did it really matter? The man she loved didn’t love her and didn’t see her as marriage material. Only time, God’s grace, and determination were going to make her love her husband. Even then she doubted it would be a passionate love like the couple in Song of Solomon.

At least half of what she’d read in that book of the Bible was beyond her understanding, but it had sounded wildly thrilling and made her think constantly of Landon.

“Lord Braidstone to see you, miss.”

Bianca’s gaze flew to the maid. Landon never called for her.

And then he was there, his large frame filling the doorway, his brown eyes twinkling and a small smile on his lips. His chestnut hair curled where his hat had been and her fingers itched to smooth it down.

“Good morning.” He entered the room and sat in the chair beside her writing desk.

“What are you doing here?” The abruptness of her question made Bianca wince.

“I came to finish our conversation. Giles said you have no fixed engagements for this evening so it seemed a fine time to go to Vauxhall.”

Oh yes, the trip to the Gardens. His curiosity about whether or not she had someone special to invite. “Yes. That would be a fine idea.”

“Have you thought of anyone we should include in the party?” He settled further back in his chair. “Anyone but Mr. Theodore.”

What was wrong with Mr. Theodore? Other than his obvious similarity to all of the other unappealing obsessively ambitious young men she’d met in London. “I’m afraid he’s the only one.”

He surged from the chair and began to pace. “You cannot seriously be contemplating marriage to that man. He’s cruel. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. He cares nothing for his horses, works his staff to the bone, and neglects any and all things Godly. More often than not he leaves the club foxed. You cannot marry him.”

Bianca stood with a frown, resignation pooling in her heart. “Which makes him very similar to half the other men I’ve met in London. He hasn’t asked yet, but he is the only one who potentially will. I hope he does. I don’t have any other choice.”

“You could go home.”

Bianca smiled sadly into Landon’s eyes. The hesitant way he’d said the sentence proved he knew how harsh Father’s welcome would be if she returned home unwed. He’d declare her a failure and doom her to a miserable secluded spinsterhood.

“Well, there must be someone.”

Her hand looked small as she reached out to touch his arm and stop his pacing. Her broken heart reached out to him. A pseudo-brother with no acceptable means of aiding her. It must be a difficult position for him. “There’s no one else. If Mr. Theodore asks, I will have to consent. He has an estate in the country. I believe he would be content to leave it for me to run in his absence. With the title, he’ll require children. I would be happy to have children.”

Landon’s frowned darkened. He wrapped his hands around her upper arms and looked deep into her eyes. “You can’t marry him.”

He crossed to the window, muttering quietly to himself. Was he naming and excusing other men? She didn’t even recognize some of the names. Shame coursed through Bianca until it weakened her legs and she fell back into her seat. Even Landon, with all of his connections and social status couldn’t think of a decent man who would be interested in marrying her.

“I have no other options.” Bianca smiled at him as best she could, but she’d never been able to hide from Landon. He would see her sadness, feel her resignation, and there was nothing she could do about it.

“Yes you do.” He spun from the window, his mouth pressed into a line of resolve. “You can marry me.”

To be continued… Part 2 of Saving Miss Caulfield 

A Reluctant Courtship Contest and Giveaway

A Reluctant CourtshipI’m excited to introduce a new Regency novel today. It’s entitled A Reluctant Courtship and is written by Regency Reflection’s own Laurie Alice Eakes.

To celebrate the release of A Reluctant Courtship, we’re running a special two week long contest. Starting today through Monday, October 28, we’ll feature thought-provoking questions at the end of each post and giving away a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) to one person who answers that day’s question. Your name will also be entered into our Regency Grand Prize giveaway.

The Grand Prize will include:Tea cup and saucer

  • A tea cup
  • A box of tea
  • A box of chocolates
  • A $10.00 Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Before we get to today’s question, let me tell you more about A Reluctant Courtship, and why I enjoyed reading it so much.

Honore Bainbridge has been courted by two men, one of whom turned out to be a traitor, the other a murderer. Banished to her family’s country estate, where she will hopefully stay out of trouble, she finally meets the man she is sure is exactly right for her: Lord Ashmoor. Tall, dark, and handsome–what more could a girl ask for? But he too is under suspicion because of his American upbringing and accusations that he has helped French and American prisoners escape from Dartmoor Prison. For his part, Lord Ashmoor needs a wife beyond reproach, which Honore certainly is not. Amid a political climate that is far from friendly, Honore determines to help Ashmoor prove his innocence–if she can do so and stay alive.

From the rocky cliffs of Devonshire, England, comes the exciting conclusion to the lush Daughters of Bainbridge House series. Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes thrusts her readers into high drama from the very first sentence and keeps them on their toes until the final page.

Laurie Alice EakesA Flight of Fancy has generated recommendations from places such as Booklist, which said: “Eakes seamlessly blends romance and intrigue, faith and history.”

I’d have to agree with Booklist about how wonderfully Eakes blended romance, suspense, history, and faith in A Reluctant Courtship. I also loved how Honore struggled as a woman who had made past mistakes and ruined her reputation, but with God’s help, she was able to overcome those mistakes and restore her good name by the end of the novel.

Today’s question: When you hear the words “Regency romance” what comes into your head?

Remember to leave your answer in the comment section below to be eligible for both today’s gift card as well as a chance to win the grand prize. Then come back Thursday for Laurie Alice Eakes’s post on what it’s like to write a Regency novel plus another chance to win.

The Living Legacy of Jane Austen and a Chance to Win

As an author, you never know when a certain book or series will connect with readers in a way that spreads like wildfire. Most authors dream of that breakout book that manages to reach the masses. Few even dare consider the thought that they might leave a legacy behind that would span centuries.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

Jane Austen is such an author. With only a handful of completed novels which, at the time, were contemporary romances, Austen wouldn’t be an obvious choice to be impacting the world two hundred years after her most popular novel was published. Yet her works continue to inspire and captivate to this day.

Austen’s legacy can be seen in everything from research books to pop culture to national heritage.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Jane would grace the ten pound note, an extraordinary feat for an author, not to mention a woman. A 12-foot statue of Mr. Darcy was installed in the Serpentine, depicting the iconic “wet shirt” scene from the 1995 BBC adaptation.

There was even a UK Government injunction against the exportation of one of Jane’s rings, sold at auction to US singer Kelly Clarkson last year. In an effort to keep Austen artifacts in the country, they are trying to raise enough money to purchase the ring back from Clarkson.

Jane Austen Knits
A book of knitting pattern inspired by Jane Austen.

But it is not just Austen memorabilia that captivates people today. There are Jane Austen Societies all over the world. People continue to gather for discussion and immersion into Austen’s world. This obsession people have with Jane Austen and particularly Pride and Prejudice, can be seen in the new movie Austenland as well as the 2008 miniseries Lost in Austen (which also commemorates the memorable wet shirt scene in a moment I found so hilarious and unexpected I actually fell off the couch laughing).

People love Jane Austen and what she represents. The world created by her stories sparked the imagination of authors such as Georgette Heyer, who we looked at Monday, as well as, directly or indirectly, a slew of Regency-era authors today.

Even research books bear witness to Austen’s influence. One of my frequently accessed research books in entitled All Things Austen. Since her books were contemporary to the time period, many look to her novels to see how life might have happened and what things may or may not have occurred.

Many writers have used Austen as inspiration. Friday we look at the multitude of spin-offs and sequels written by fans of Jane Austen’s stories. People so caught up in the world she built that they couldn’t bear for those characters to end there.

Do you see impacts of Jane Austen today? What’s your favorite “Austen sighting”?

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win.