Category: Marriage Proposals

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.

Happy Leap Year Day!

 

Leap Year A La Regency

Thirty days hath September, 
April, June and November; 
All the rest have thirty-one, 
Excepting February alone 
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine, 
Till leap year gives it twenty-nine. 

Just as young people desiring to bypass all the rigmarole to get married in Regency England could hightail it to Scotland, women could also thank the Scots for making it a law allowing women to propose to men one day a year, every four years on Feb. 29.

Tradition has it that this law came on the books back in 1288—and that if a man turned a woman down, he must pay a fine, anything from a kiss to a pair of gloves or even a silk dress. Another tradition has it that the spurned woman must be wearing a visible red petticoat if she wanted the fine paid. Tradition aside, there is no written evidence on the books of Scottish Parliament’s having passed such a law.

Another legend has it that it was over in fifth century Ireland that St. Brigit asked St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men, since, supposedly, men were laggards in this area. After a bit of negotiating, St. Paddy allowed it every four years on Leap Year Day.

The American Farmer, published in 1827, quotes this passage from a 1606 volume entitled Courtship, Love and Matrimonie:

Albeit, it is nowe become a parte of the Common Lawe, in regard to the social relations of life, that as often as every bissectile year doth return, the Ladyes have the sole privilege, during the time it continueth, of making love unto the men, which they may doe either by wordes or lookes, as unto them it seemeth proper; and moreover, no man will be entitled to the benefit of Clergy who dothe refuse to accept the offers of a ladye, or who dothe in any wise treate her proposal withe slight or contumely.

So, wherever or however the tradition developed, by the time of the regency, Leap Year as a year or a day of female initiative in the romantic sphere was well-known. 1812, 1816 and 1820 were all leap years. Even though the Gregorian calendar had made the bissextile year (having an extra day) official back in 1582, Britain ignored the date of Feb. 29, so legally it didn’t exist. British law conveniently “leaped over” the date, probably because of so many negative superstitions associated with it, especially concerning livestock and crops. Ignoring this day resulted in a tradition of “anything goes”—hence women proposing to men. According to the Encyclopedia Americana 2004 Edition (Volume 17), King Henry VIII’s reign had an English law passed making February 28 the official birthday of “leaplings” or “leapers,” those born on Leap Year Day .

LEAP YEAR, OR JOHN BULL’S PEACE ESTABLISHMENT

[Published March, 1816, by S. W. Fores, 50, Piccadilly]

This British political cartoon satirizes the royal marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales (the Prince Regent’s daughter) to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on May 2, 1816.

The British Parliament settled £60,000 on the newlyweds, with £50,000 more for the prince should his bride pass away. The cartoon depicts the English nation on its hands and knees, a bit in his mouth, driven by Her Royal Highness with a horsewhip.

John Bull is the national personification of England, the way “Uncle Sam” is to the United States. He is loaded down with packages labeled with all the heavy tax burdens imposed on the populace at the time. After more than a quarter century of war with France, Britain’s people were financially exhausted. The Prince Regent’s extravagant lifestyle and building projects only filled them with disgust and caused a growing number of riots (one reason the Prince Regent preferred spending time at his seaside retreat, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton).

In the cartoon, Prince Regent George supports himself on crutches formed of dragons from his Brighton money pit. “Push on!” he shouts, “Preach economy! And when you have got your money, follow my example.” “Oh! my back,” groans John, crawling under the weight of his heavy burdens. “I never can bear it! This will finish me.”


 Sources: English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 3, Wikisource.org; Smithsonian Magazine.com; http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/leap-year.html; http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Leap-Year-Superstitions/; http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/leap_year_2.htm; http://voices.yahoo.com/leap-year-2008-history-facts-798349.html?cat=37

 

 

Originally posted 2012-02-29 05:00:00.

What? A Cover Reveal

Vanessa here,

I am so excited to announce a few things. For “The Bargain” fans, the season finale is on its way. My editor is having one more look at it to make sure it sparkles when it shows up on your Kindle. It will also be available in Paperback, too. Today, I must share with you the cover for my next serial novel that will release in January 2016.

UnveilingLove_pulled back_72

Unveiling Love:

Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Bradley Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Bradley’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Bradley’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?

It’s available on Pre-Order now at Amazon:

This story of Bradley and Amora’s is very dear. Parts of their tale made me weep. I hope it lives up to my heroes like Jo Beverly, Beverly Jenkins, and Laurie Alice Eakes who weave suspense into their sweeping romances.

 

What is a serial novel?

Unveiling Love is a serialized story or soap opera told in episodes. Each episode averages three to eight chapters, about 15,000 to 30,000 words. Each episode resolves one issue. Emotional cliffhangers may be offered, but the plot, the action of the episode, will be complete in resolving the main issue.
My promise to you is that the action will be compelling, and I will tell you in the forward the length of the episode.

 

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?

 

Dark, Lovely, and Loved: The Diverse Regency

Vanessa here,

I’ve been away for a bit as I immersed myself in my latest writing projects. As you all know, I love the Regency, the mannerism, the wit, and the fashions. I am intrigued by the challenges the people of the times faced: the complexity and aftermath of war, the stark differences in the rights of women versus men, and the growing social consciousness.

But there is more, much more.

Did you know London was very diverse with large Jewish and African populations? Yet, it is very rare to see these aspects in Regency fiction. Except for my dear friend Ruth Axtell’s book, The Winter is Past, you do not typically see a racially diverse cast of characters.

I, an African American writer, am guilty of this, too. In my debut book, Madeline’s Protector, Justain’s conscience figure, Mason, was originally a free black, but I edited it out, thinking that such a close relationship between an earl and his black man-of-all-work wouldn’t pass the sniff test or even would upset some because he’s killed early in the book. I didn’t trust my audience as much as I should’ve, nor did I trust my ability to tell the tale. And if I had such worries, I can imagine how others feel when they lift pen to paper trying to write a historically accurate, compelling, and marketable tale. Those three components differ based on the eye or pocketbook of the beholder: Traditional Presses versus Indie Pubs, niche marketing versus mainstream pitches, Christian Bookseller Association versus American Bookseller Association, etc.

I applaud everyone brave enough to write their story in the way that they feel is right. I just know that for me and my pen, my laptop and smart phone, we shall tell the story and the whole story from now on, so help me God.

But London was diverse. And doesn’t love always win?

Let me show you some images. At first glance they may offend, but that is not my intent. With the sweetness of the Regency, one must also accept the bitter dregs, the things that have been swept away, because it is ugly.

Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University
Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University – Drawn by William Austin 1773

This is William Austin’s 1773 caricature: ‘The Duchess of (Queensbury) playing at Foils with her favorite lap dog Mungo’. This cartoon was meant to shame the duchess for spending 10,000 pounds (1 Million pounds in 2015 dollars) to teach one of her loyal servants, Soubise, how to fence. Soubise was treated like a son to the duchess.  Think of the trust the duchess must’ve had in this black man to invest that sum in his education and to trust him to wield a sword. But was he so unusual in the Duchess’s world?

By Regency times, historians, Kirstin Olsen and Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, estimate that Black London (the black neighborhood of London) had over 10,000 residents. While England led the world in granting rights to the enslaved and ending legal slavery thirty years before the American Civil War, it still had many citizens who were against change.  Here is another image from an anti-abolitionist.

The_New_Union_Club_Being_a_Representation_of_what_took_place_at_a_celebrated_Dinner_given_by_a_celebrated_society
The New Union Club Being a Representation of what took place at a celebrated Dinner given by a celebrated society – includes in picture abolitionists, Billy Waters, Zachariah Macauley, William Wilberforce. – published 19 July 1819. Source: Wiki Commons

This image is from 1819, a cartoon by George Cruikshank. It is supposed to depict an abolitionist’s dinner party, but it just shows fear of the races intermingling. It serves as a reminder of how many thought of blacks and how it was ingrained in the times. Notice the half-black half-white baby, the promiscuous woman sitting on the gentleman’s lap, the black-face additions to the artwork, the violence and chaos, even the blood shed amongst the party goers.

How many laughs did it draw in the parlors and drawings rooms of polite society? Moreover, how did the enslaved and free servants or the black men who owned shops feel fetching this paper to their masters, their employers, or watching it enfolded in the hands of their patrons?

Cruikshank drew fear, and he wouldn’t have, if Regency society didn’t possess it. For Cruikshank, a rising black middle class, intermingling in society, gaining in social power and wealth, was something to dread. Is this ugliness, this truth, the reason the fictional landscape of Regency exhibits stories abscent diversity and color? Does showing black or brown or yellow historical faces mean that the ugliness must also show?

Perhaps, or perhaps not. But to pretend it did not exist is to dishonor every person who received a racial slur and turned the other cheek, the unknown man lynched for the fault of his birth, or every fallen soldier felled on the road to equality.

My goal is to show through the stories pressing upon my spirit that truth and love can coexist on a diverse canvas. When love arrives, the picture changes and even the bad can be borne and overcome.

Here’s a picture showing love winning.

Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Belle, once attributed to Zoffany
Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (1761-1804) and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray (1760-1825) painted in 1778. Source: Wiki Commons

Look at these two cousins, Dido and Elizabeth. Their great uncle, Lord Mansfield, loved them both and had them arrayed in fashionable apparel and pearls for this portrait. Both ladies are trapped by their circumstances, Dido by her race and Elizabeth by her lack of an inheritance. Johan Zoffany paints them, particularly Dido with no grotesques features, no overt subservient positioning, no hint of promiscuity or evil, just two lovely women.

It would be great if the date of these images showed progress, the growing changes in London society. They don’t. No, they just show truth. The landscape of Regency London was diverse and enlightened hearts embraced the diversity with love.

My second full length novel, Unmasked Heart releases on June 15, 2015. Gaia Telfair is a different kind of heroine. She’s a mulatto, with both black and white blood coursing within her veins, only she didn’t know it until she reached for love.

unmasked heart cover3cvNew72

 

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.

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.”

 

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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