A Jane Austen Devotional

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

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

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

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

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?

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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Little Known Tidbits about the French Revolution

Hi Everyone,

Naomi here with another giveaway today to celebrate the release of The Soldier’s Secrets. I’m also doing a little history lesson about a very fascinating part of the Georgian and Regency years–or at least, I find it to be fascinating.

It’s no secret that I’ve written three books set during the French Revolution. The first is Sanctuary for a Lady, the second is The Soldier’s Secrets, and the third, which doesn’t have a title yet, comes out in January 2015. I often think the French Revolution is one of the most distorted and misunderstood time periods of European history.

Here’s a few facts that might help make the French Revolution a little more understandable:

Before the Revolution

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  • Before the Revolution started in 1789, a loaf of bread cost a week’s salary for the peasant class.
  • In 1789, the peasantry paid taxes to nobles, the king, and the church, while the aristocrats barely payed taxes.
  • The country was bankrupt.
  • The cost of France helping with the American Revolution was a contributing factor to its bankruptcy.

 

 

During the Revolution

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  • Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France before the Revolution, never said, “Let them eat cake.” However, the political pamphlets of the time reported that she said this (as well as several other untruths about her), and so the peasants of France believed it and got even more upset with her and King Louis XVI.
  • Marie Antoinette was Austrian born and never very popular with the French people–even before the alleged “let them eat cake” comment.
  • When the Bastille was stormed, only seven prisoners were being held there. The Bastille wasn’t stormed to liberate wrongfully imprisoned men, but to give the peasants access to the weapons stored inside the Bastille. The peasant class was convinced King Louis was going to send his army into Paris to kill political dissenters, and the people wanted weapons to defend themselves.
  • Most of the France’s aristocrats were ensconced in Versailles and ignored the famine and economic troubles until a mob of peasant women stormed the castle and demanded bread in August of 1789.Tale of Two Cities
  • The ideals behind the French Revolution were so looked down on by other European monarchies that France ended up fighting Prussia, Britain, Spain and Austria all while having their own internal revolution. Some of the fighting goes back to Marie Antoinette being Austrian born. Her brother, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, didn’t take kindly to Marie Antoinette being imprisoned, and then beheaded, which fueled the start of the French Revolutionary Wars.
  • The metric system was developed during the French Revolution.
  • The French Revolutionary Government also adopted its own calendar based on tens. Each week had ten days, each day had ten hours, each hour had 100 minutes, and each minute had 100 seconds. This meant the peasants who got one day a week off now had to work nine days before their break.
  • After the French Revolution ended, the metric system stayed in place, but the French Revolutionary Calender was set aside in favor of the Gregorian Calendar.

The first question people usually ask me after they find out where my novels are set is “Why the French Revolution?”

Oddly enough, I don’t find that question hard to answer, and now you know why. Do any of the facts mentioned above surprise you? Which ones?

Today I’m giving away a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets as well as a copy of A Tale of Two Cities. To enter the giveaway, fill out the drawing form at the end of the post. And don’t forget to come back on Monday for an review of The Soldier’s Secrets and a chance to win another copy of the novel plus a copy of the History Channel Documentary: The French Revolution.

 

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Heroine Rescued from Fruitless Vanity by Regency Hero! “A Heart’s Rebellion”

Lovely heroine, Jessamine Barry, daughter of a vicar no less, is tempted, and gives in to vanity when she allows a flattering knave to draw her away from her standards.

A Heart's RebellionYou may have noted my journalistic headline-style title, and the 30 word summary with which I started this post. I don’t know if I got your attention, but the book “A Heart’s Rebellion” got my attention as a wonderful read. And since it has simmered in my heart and mind for a few weeks, a marvelous truth-filled spiritual theme has surfaced from the book’s delight-filled sea of lavish plot, setting, and characterization.

The hero, Lancelot Marfleet, is a Christlike man.  However, he is not deliciously handsome like so many romance heroes. But from Scripture, we learn that our Lord himself was not particularly attractive or handsome:

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,

nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”  

Isaiah 53:2 

The heroine is Jessamine Barry, who sidetracks onto a tangent of worldliness, seeking satisfaction in being admired by a man…any man.

She reminds me of Folly, a name which could be used for Jessamine as she leaves her family home for the bright lights of London. She also discards the teachings of her youth:

“The wisest of women builds her house, but Folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

Lancelot, in his Christlike way, shows grace to Jessamine, is patient, long-suffering, and kind, even when she is not.  He ultimately rescues her from her sin and gives her a way out.  He draws her to himself in love and completely saves her.  For me, this chain of events makes this book even more worthwhile for the picture of redemption shown through the character of Lancelot.

To celebrate the release of A Heart’s Rebellion, author Ruth Axtell will be giving away two copies of her book. The first giveaway ended Monday, March 24 at midnight, and the second ends Monday, March 31 (today) at midnight. To enter the giveaway, answer the following question in the comments below:

Giveaway Question: The hero in A Heart’s Rebellion, Lancelot Marfleet, has a hobby, which is botany. What is a famous botanical garden in London, which existed in regency times?

Also, If you’ve read the book, did you notice any other Christlike attributes of the hero? I’d love to read your comments on this post, Thanks for your time, Susan Karsten

 

It’s The Season for New Releases

Fans of Inspirational Regencies, rejoice! It’s time to welcome the new crop of romances, ready to whisk you away to the early 19th century.

Axtell_HeartRebellionOver the next six weeks we will be celebrating four new titles. That’s right, four! I hope you are as excited about that as we are. Prepare for giveaways, trivia questions, author interviews, and more.

Thursday, we’ll kick things off with a look at Ruth Axtell’s new book, A Heart’s Rebellion.

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's SecretIn April, take a closer look at The Soldier’s Secrets by Naomi Rawlings, The Husband Campaign by our good friend Regina Scott, and Laurie Alice Eakes’ newest, A Lady’s Honor.

Mark your calendars, subscribe to the blog, and tell your friends because you do NOT want to miss this amazing celebration!

 

Regina Scott The Husband CampaignHow to win the prizes: 

1. Come to the blog.

2. Answer the trivia question. (Or comment if no trivia is available that day.)

Laurie Alice Eakes A Lady's HonorIt’s just that easy! The promotion and open contest dates will run as follows:

March 20 – 31 ~ A Heart’s Rebellion by Ruth Axtell. Contest closes April 2.

April 3 – 14 ~ The Soldier’s Secrets by Naomi Rawlings. Contest closes April 16.

April 17 ~ The Husband Campaign  by Regina Scott. Contest closes April 20.

April 21 – May 1 ~ A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes. Contest closes May 4.

Are you excited about these amazing books? All are currently available for preorder. Check individual author websites for more details.

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 

The Best Book of the Year?

When we asked the Regency Reflections authors what the best book of the year was, we got several interpretations:

* What is the best book you’ve read thus far in 2014?

* What was the best book of 2013?

* What is your most anticipated book of 2014? 

Any way you interpret it, it’s an intriguing question. Our answers are below but we’d love to hear from you in the comments. What do you think is the best book of the year?

Ruth Axtell – In fiction I’ve been very impressed with A Cast of Stones, Book 1 in the new Staff and the Sword Christian fantasy trilogy by debut author Patrick W. Carr

Naomi Rawlings – A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

th_holy_bibleLaurie Alice Eakes – Right now, the only amazing book I’ve read so far and will be reading through this year is the Bible. It’s been a few years since I’ve read through it in a disciplined plan, and am amazed all over again at how amazing is the word of God. Holding fiction reading opinions in reserve as of yet.

Kristi Ann Hunter – Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. Such a fun read and a great look at the difference between books as a passion and books as an obsession. If you love the classic Austen and Bronte books, you’ll enjoy all the references in Dear Mr. Knightley. I’m pretty sure this is her first book, so I’m very excited to see what else she does.

BookCornersKristy Cambron – I am in the middle of Sarah Ladd’s new release — The Headmistress of Rosemere. As with her debut, fans of Austen will love book two in the Whispers on the Moors series. I’m planning on getting little sleep until I make it to the back cover! 🙂

Susan Karsten – Ah, what fun! To think over all the wonderful books I read last year and pick the most amazing. I am going to pick a CBA* book, To Die For, A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd, as the most amazing Christian historical fiction book of 2013. Honorable mention goes to an excellent laugh-out-loud ABA* book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Your turn! Head down to the comments and tell us your favorite book of 2013 or thus far in 2014 or even the book you can’t wait for that’s coming out sometime this year.

*Note: CBA stands for Christian Booksellers Association and ABA is for the American Booksellers Association. In writing circles ABA is sometimes referred to as “general market.”

 

Regency Reference Books

A Walk down Memory Lane

by Ruth Axtell

I was recently emptying out and cleaning a bookshelf, one that held my non-fiction. I realized that most of my reference books are books I’ve acquired over the years (decades) to aid me in researching whichever story I happen to be working on at the time. They are grouped by subject, so they are like a roadmap of my writing career.

Winter Is PastFor example, along half a shelf were books on Sephardic judiasm, judiasm in the first centuries A.D., synagogues across Europe, the formation of the Methodist church, and portraits of the great 18th century revival. These books cover the period when I researched and wrote my first-ever regency historical, Winter Is Past, a love story between a Sephardic Jew in London and a Methodist nurse. Talk about star-crossed lovers.

Another shelf has books on the history of the American sailing ship, piloting, seamanship, and small boat handling, for a historical romance I did about a wooden boatbuilder (Lilac Spring).

Getting back to regencies, here are some of my favorite reference books, which I collected The Dandyin those years preceding Google: Quacks, Fakes and Charlatans in Medicine (used primarily in researching The Healing Season, a story about a surgeon in regency times); Moers’ The Dandy (great resource for information on Beau Brummell and all those who aped him);  Colley’s Britons, for a general history of the nation; and The War of Wars, a very thorough history of the Napoleonic wars. The Streets of London from the Great Fire to the Great Stink is a detailed description of street life in regency London (which I also needed in writing The Healing Season). The London Encyclopedia, which I was fortunate to get used, is a wonderful resource on just about any geographic building and landmark in London and its environs. I used a 16th century mansion, Osterley Park, within a short train ride from the center of London, for the country estate of one of my characters in The Rogue’s Redemption. I was able to tour the place in person, but if I hadn’t, there it is listed in The London Encyclopedia, complete with a print of it on page 568.

London EncyclopediaFor a different kind of London residence, there’s a print and entry for the Millbank Penitentiary, built in 1821. It was pulled down in 1903, so you need a reference like The London Encyclopedia to pinpoint what buildings did and didn’t exist in London 200 years ago. I set my first regency in Belgravia, until a critique partner pointed out to me that this London neighborhood had not begun to be developed until AFTER the regency. Oops! Thank goodness for sharp-eyed and knowledgeable critique partners.

John Russell’s London, is another fun, fact-filled history of London and its various neighborhoods over the centuries.London

For regency fashion, I have Ackerman’s Costume Plates 1818-1828, which has detailed prints of late-regency gowns.

This is only a portion of my historical research books, which I don’t pull down from the shelves so much anymore. These days it’s easier to “google” an item in question. But having read these books cover-to-cover at one time or another certainly gave me a more in-depth knowledge of the 19th century than just googling disjointed pieces of information would have.

What are some of your favorite reference books for history?

 

War of Wars Streets of London Ackerman's

Interesting Options for Setting Reading Goals… and Why You Should

From expanding your vocabulary to boosting your brain activity to just being downright entertaining, reading has a plethora of benefits.

BooksTabletThis is the time of year when most people decide on what changes to make in their life and what they want to accomplish in the coming year. If reading more is anywhere on your resolution list, you might want to consider setting a solid goal for yourself.

If reading isn’t on your list anywhere, I refer you back to the first sentence of this article for reasons why it should be.

Here are a few ideas for setting and reaching a reading goal:

 

By Stephan Brunker from Wikimedia Commons

1. Set a Number

This is a pretty common, traditional way to set a reading goal. Do you want to read 20 books this year? 52? 100? Maybe you don’t read much and just want to increase to reading a book a month.

Whatever your number is, make sure it’s reasonable. If you take weeks to finish a book, don’t shoot for 100.

 

Help for Achieving Number Goals:

* Track your reading on a site/app like Goodreads or Shelfari. Pick your favorite book tracking site and log your reading. This will make it easier to remember what you’ve read.

Set your reading goal on Goodreads to keep track of it.
Set your reading goal on Goodreads to keep track of it.

* Make a sticker chart. Remember those charts when you were a kid? You got gold stars for anything and everything your teacher or parent could think of rewarding you for. Your inner child probably still finds some satisfaction in those gold stars. Print out a chart with a spot for each book you want to read. Then mark it off with a sticker when you finish it.

2. Expand Your Genres

Maybe numbers aren’t a problem. You’re constantly reading, but most if not all of those books fall into the same general genre. You might consider setting a non-fiction goal or an out-of-the-norm novel goal.

Help for achieving genre expansion goals: 

* You can set a ratio goal such as one non-fiction book for every three novels. One caution on this one: I tried this about three years ago and I ended up not reading anything for months because I was struggling so badly to get through the non-fiction book I’d chosen. Don’t let that happen to you.

* Consider joining a book club. If you join a monthly book club and commit to reading whatever book they are reading, it will pull you out of your comfort genre and make you try other things. Plus you’ll get he camaraderie of a book club. Try googling book clubs in your area or search for one on The Book Club Network. Goodreads also has a large assortment of online book clubs. You can also google online book clubs by specific genre you are hoping to expand into.

3. Use a Non-numeral Gauge

Maybe numbers aren’t your thing. You might have trouble grasping your progress on a numeral scale. Join Jon Acuff on his Empty Shelf Challenge. The concept is fairly simple. Empty out a bookshelf and read until you’ve filled it back up again. There’s even a Pinterest support group.

The empty shelf challenge on pinterest
The Empty Shelf Challenge on Pinterest

What are the benefits to this? You’re in a group with people of various reading speeds. Some are doing audio books, others are putting eBooks on a virtual shelf. Some are already on book five while others are still working on book one. Some devour non-fiction self-enrichment books while others read business books and still others almost exclusively read novels.

Unlike a normal book club, people are reading whatever they want, so you might get some good book recommendations. I know I have.

Other non-numeral challenges can be found on places such as Goodreads. Some I’ve seen in the past year:

* The Rainbow Challenge: Where your book covers have to make a rainbow OR books with the colors of the rainbow in the title.

* The State Challenge: Read books set in each state.

* The Dewey Decimal Challenge: For the non-fiction lover, read a book for each fifty number chunk of the Dewey Decimal system.

4. Use a Timer

Maybe all you really want or need is to make reading a priority in your life. Set aside a time to read every day. Thirty minutes, fifteen, maybe even an hour. Don’t worry about how many books you get through, just enjoy the time and benefits of reading.

 

Are you setting a reading goal?

If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out any of the books on our Inspirational Regencies list, particularly those by your favorite Regency Reflections author. You can also look back through our December posts for some recommendations on traditional regencies. And keep an eye on this blog throughout the year as we tell you about more great Regency-set books.

Looking for something outside the Regency? Two of our authors just published a couple of non-Regency books that will still warm your heart and given you an enjoyable read. Check them out.