Category: Regency Hero

How to Have an American Duke

Ah, titles. They are one of the most fascinating things about the Regency period, I think. It’s no secret that people are enamored with the idea of royalty. (Have you seen the one year William and Kate Wedding Dollsanniversary dolls of William and Kate?) The fascination with titles and everything that comes with them is part of the draw of the Regency time period. Right before the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class, the power and prestige that came from sheer luck of birth was still riding high at the beginning of the 19th century.

Kristi here, with a look at how all that power and prestige makes its way down the family tree. On the surface, inheritance is simple. But the intricacies can get very complex.

I read a completely made up statistic once that more fictional English dukes have been created than have ever actually existed. If you type “duke” into Barnes and Noble’s search bar you won’t find that hard to believe.

But, just for kicks, I’m going to make up another one to use in this example. Introducing the Duke of Handsomeshire (because, really, what good is a fictional duke if he doesn’t look good?)

The Creation of the Duke of Handsomeshire

Sometime back in history, the king thought someone deserved great honor and bestowed upon him the title of Duke of Handsomeshire. He was given some land and possibly some money and a whole bunch of other favors because the king liked him.

Now the First Duke of Handsomeshire  feels very responsible for this new title. He gets himself a wife and sets about having an heir and a spare or two. Or five or six because children died way too often back then. We’ll call his sons Adam, Benjamin, Charles, and Edward. (D was Deborah and she’s a girl, so sadly means nothing in this article.)

Fictional duke with four sons and a daughter.

The Progression of the Dukedom

Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House, seat of the Duke of Devonshire, via Wikimedia Commons

The title, property, money, and all of that other fun stuff pass down to son number one, Adam. He becomes the second Duke of Handsomeshire. All the other kids? Well, good luck to them. If Adam is feeling generous he might help the others, but really he doesn’t have to. All Adam has to do is manage the estate, find him a wife, and make lots of little heirs of his own.

This  continues down the line for several generations. As long as the Duke of Handsomeshire has sons, there’s little question of who inherits. However, years go by and the sixth Duke of Handsomeshire is blessed with lovely, talented, beautiful daughters. Who can’t inherit squat as far as the title is concerned.

By now the family tree of the original duke looks like this:

Fictional duke's family tree extending out six generations
Click the picture to see it in full detail

The Rerouting of the Direct Line

Once the sixth Duke of Handsomeshire dies, the powers that be start tracing the tree backward. Since women can’t inherit, they can immediately be ignored.

Hopefully the sixth duke had a younger brother. If that younger brother is dead, then hopefully the younger brother had little boys of his own. But, alas, it’s a generation of skirts, so up the tree we go.

If, as I have made the case here, there aren’t a whole lot of male progeny, they have to trace quite a good distance back to keep it in the direct male line of the original title holder. In this case we have to go all the way back to the 1st duke’s fourth son, Edward. Benjamin had lots of daughters and Charles sadly died without any offspring. You can make his death as tragic as you like. It really has no bearing on the inheritancy.

What you end up with is this:

Fictional duke's extended family, showing 7th and 8th dukes
Click to see the picture larger

The 8th duke isn’t going to inherit until his father dies, of course. He’s just labeled to show the continuation of the line.

The Ramifications of the New Line

Now over six generations, the family is going to spread out. With no tie to the title or the family money, descendents of younger sons have had to make their own way in life. It’s feasible that somewhere along the line these men moved. Possibly even out of the country. Not expecting to inherit, and indeed possibly not even knowing there was a duke back in  branches of the family tree, they’ve gone about their lives.

Suddenly a guy shows up with a complicated diagram and a whole lot of legal papers stating you’ve inherited something from your sixth cousin. And this is how you could end up with an American (or French or German) Duke of Handsomeshire that actually knows how to farm or run a business or some other such un-aristocratic skill.

The Case of No Male Descendants

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. When a peerage was made, there could be provisions set that allowed certain titles to descend through the female line. Probably the most famous exception was the Duke of Marlborough. His family looked like this:

The Family of the First Duke of Marlborough
By John Closterman (1660-1711) via. Wikimedia Commons

But neither of the lads in the picture survived, leaving him with only daughters. This meant that the brand new title had nowhere to go. So provision was made for the title to pass through the female line down to the next male heir.

Knowing this, it now makes a lot more sense why so many second and third cousins could be found hanging around and reminding everyone of their connection to the peerage. One never knew when one might inherit.

Learn More

If you’re looking for more information about the details of exceptions to this male-inheritance rule as well as pesky things such as entails and what happened to a title if there were no male sixth cousins hanging around, you can read this article from ChristianRegency.com.

Now just for fun, go trace your family tree and see how far you are away from a title. Unless you’re female.  Then you can see how many people would have to die for your brother or husband to inherit. Should only take you a couple dozen years or so.

Originally posted 2012-05-21 10:00:00.

Murder in Parliament

Murder in Parliament sounds like the title of a mystery novel. Sadly, the title is the raw truth. On may 11, 1812, an assassin walked up to the prime minister and shot him. The Right Honorable Spencer Perceval died within minutes of the shooting, and the killer turned himself in moments after that.

The Right Honorable Spencer Perceval courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spencer_Perceval.jpg

Murder is always tragic, and this one made more so for its seeming pointlessness. At first, before details were known, some thought the assassination a French plot. After all, the French seemed to be winning the war. The British weren’t doing well on the continent at any rate. Why not disrupt the government with an assassination? But, no, the killing shot was triggered from the hand of an individual, a subject of Great Britain, John Bellingham.

John Bellingham photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Bellingham_portrait.gif

So why did John Bellingham have special pockets sewn into his coat to hold his pistols concealed? Why did he wait in the lobby of Parliament, wait for Perceval to appear, then walk up and shoot him through the heart?

Many said he was insane, that he must be insane. Others denied this fact, one of those being John Bellingham himself. Another who said he was sane was Sir James Mansfield, the judge who presided over his brief trial and pronounced his immediate sentence.

Bellingham wanted justice. He may or may not have been the John Bellingham who went to sea as a midshipman in the 1780s. That ship went aground after the crew mutinied. He may have been the same John Bellingham who’s tin business in London failed a few years later. No one is quite sure. That he worked in a counting house is certain. He also went to Russia for  importers and exporters, and there is where the real troubles began.

A ship insured by Lloyds of London was lost in the White Sea. Before the merchants could collect on the insurance, Lloyds received an anonymous letter saying the ship had been sabotaged. Suspecting Bellingham was the author of said letter, the owners of the vessel claimed he owed a substantial debt, which landed Bellingham in a Russian prison. A year later, he managed his release, went to St. Petersburg, and dove into more trouble that landed him back into a Russian prison. He was released in 1808, received permission from the czar to leave Russia, and ended up back in England in 1809—to no happy homecoming.

Bellingham petitioned the British government for compensation for his imprisonment in Russia. But nothing was forthcoming. Due to Russia’s relationship with France at the time, the British had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia. At the persuasion of his wife, Bellingham gave up and went to work, but tried again in 1812.

Allegedly, a civil servant at the foreign office told Bellingham he could take whatever measures he thought proper. I expect this clerk thought Bellingham would write letters or even waylay someone like Lord Gower, the British ambassador to Russia at the time of Bellingham’s imprisonment in that country.

Bellingham, however, made other plans. He bought the pistols, had the pockets made, and executed his plan as Perceval strode through the lobby of Parliament.

Assassination photo courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Assassination_of_Spencer_Perceval.jpg

One can dismiss the incident as someone with a grievance taking it out on the highest person he could reach. One might think that people would be appalled by him and call out with joy at his hanging. On the contrary. Much sentiment lay with Bellingham. He had carried out justice and maybe in the future, those in high places would listen when petitioned by a wronged common man.

Indeed, though no one—or perhaps a few far-sighted thinkers of the time—realized that this assassination did change the course of history, that John Bellingham’s actions brought about justice. A different government came into power after Perceval leadership was gone, a government that reenacted much needed reforms that helped the poor.

As for Bellingham’s family. A collection was taken, and his family ended with far more money than they had before his dastardly deed and consequent execution.

Originally posted 2012-05-14 10:00:00.

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.

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.

 

Didn’t win Brentwood’s Ward? Have some fun making your own Regency hero or heroine!

Congratulations to Merry for winning the drawing for a copy of Brentwood’s Ward! Check your email for more details from Michelle!

While Merry is entertaining herself with the adventures of Nicholas and Emily, the rest of us can have some fun of our own.

I found these really fun links from Deviant Art. It’s virtual Regency paper dolls. The time I spent playing around on this site could be why this post is late this morning… oh well.

Here’s the Regency couple I made:

HeroDoll HeroineDoll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aren’t they adorable?

You can make your own Regency couple at the links below.

Heroines and Heroes

Unfortunately there isn’t a way to post pictures in the comments, but if you make a character and post it elsewhere (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.), please leave the link below. We’d love to see them!

Technical Directions for saving the picture: 

On a PC running Windows 7 or higher, go to the Start menu and search for the “Snipping Tool”. Select new and drag a square around your picture. Then save it.

I don’t have a Mac, but the internet says you can do something similar in OSX by pressing command + shift + 4.

If these methods don’t work for you, search the internet for how to do a screen capture on your operating system. If you end up with the entire screen, you can go to pic monkey to crop it. (Select edit, load your picture, then select crop. Save your picture to your computer.)

 

A Regency Romance with a French Twist

Last fall, I wrote about researching my latest regency romance. Well, this month it is available and I thought I’d give readers an update. My title and cover have been changed. It is now title She Shall Be Praised and the new cover is below.

She Shall Be Praised (from Proverbs 31) is a sequel to my London-set Regency, The Rogue’s Redemption.  In Book 2 of The Leighton Sisters series, Katie Leighton, younger sister of Hester Leighton from The Rogue’s Redemption, travels to Paris with Hester and her husband, Gerrit Hawkes.

L'Hôtel_national_des_Invalides
L’Hotel National des Invalides, Wikipedia

Paris has been liberated from Napoleon by the British and other allied countries, so tourists are once again traveling from England to the Continent. Katie, who travels from America (Maine), meets a young French veteran who fought at Waterloo against the British. Among the narrow medieval street of Paris and the monuments like Notre Dame, Katie finds herself more interested in visiting the blind, cripple veteran at Les Invalides, a hospital and old-age home for veterans.

I love France and all things French, from the food to the art. It was interesting to research this period, when the horrors of the French Revolution and the years of wars under Napoleon have brought about the restored monarchy. But along with the new king, comes a wave of reactionary politics as the aristocrats come back from their emigration during the Reign of Terror, wanting to have their place in society restored. They want things back the way they used to be. But too many people have tasted the freedom under the civil government of Napoleon, so there is a clash of old school vs. new.

The land has been devastated by years of war, so France has missed out on the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and the prosperity it has brought to Britain. And yet, during this time of the Restoration, people continue to live their lives.

Katie Leighton, my “beauty” in this beauty and the beast tale, doesn’t consider herself a beauty, but a plain Jane. Etienne Santerre, my “beast” hides under both an assumed name and behind the thick walls of Les Invalides, a virtual prisoner of his evil valet, Pierre. There is a mystery surrounding Etienne’s background, which Katie senses, but which Etienne is silent on. In the meantime, she is more concerned with his soul. Little by little, her light begins to shine into Etienne’s darkness.

The story takes Etienne from the walls of Les Invalides to the Loire Valley to his ancestral home. There he faces what he has tried to blot out since he landed at Les Invalides, a wounded, crippled soldier. When his life is most at risk, he begins to turn to the God Katie has witnessed to him.

Etienne is a dark hero, sorely in need of Beauty’s touch. She shares her faith with him in her gentle, loving way, until he lets down his defenses and allows the healing power of love to restore all he has lost.RuthAxtell_SheShallBePraised_c

When the Men go Clubbing ~ Regency Gentlemen’s Clubs

The club.

Many a fictional aristocratic hero had spent a great deal of time at “his club”.  While many clubs of various affiliations and interests were started in the late  Georgian era and throughout the Victorian period, the Regency was dominated by the gentlemen’s clubs marching down St. James Street.

The three oldest and most established clubs set the example. And while many have come and gone since the 1820s, the three powerhouses remain today, still sitting in the same locations our heroes visited.

White’s

The granddaddy of the the London gentlemen’s clubs, White’s was first established in 1693, at the site of what would later become Boodle’s.

Whites London
White’s London via Paul Farmer / WikiCommons

It started life innocently enough as a hot chocolate emporium, but shifted to an exclusive club and gambling den in 1736. In the late 1700s it moved down St. James street to its current location. Soon after that it became known as the club of those affiliated with the Tory political party.  (A more extensive history of the movement can be found here.)

Though not the only club sporting a bay window, it was the most famous bay window. Being seen sitting in White’s window was a sign of popularity and prestige.

White’s was and is still a men only club. Queen Elizabeth II is the only woman known to have been entertained at the club. Entrance into the club has always been difficult, with an exceedingly long wait list and a discerning membership policy. Today a potential member must be vouched for by at least 35 existing members.

That exclusivity is probably why only one man has been recorded as leaving the club voluntarily. While others have left through death or shameful forced resignation, Prime Minister David Cameron is said to have resigned White’s over there men-only rule.

If the club has a website, I couldn’t find it. Though there are several other London establishments trying to cash in on the popularity and prestige of the White’s name.

Brook’s

Brook’s has been a private club from its inception. In 1762 it started as a private society formed by two men blackballed from White’s. The society then split into two groups, each of which established their own club.

Brooks, via WikiCommons
Brooks, via WikiCommons

One of these groups consisted of nearly thirty prominent members of the Whig political party. They established the group that would later become Brook’s, though the club was originally named Almack’s because they met at William Almack’s coffee house, very near the prestigious Almack’s Assembly Rooms.

The group moved to its current home on St. James Street in 1778 into a building built by William Brooks, a wine merchant who acted as manager of Almack’s.

While all gentlemen’s clubs were known for gambling, Brook’s gaming rooms were notoriously going day and night.

While Brook’s does not allow women to become full members, they do allow female guests. And while their website is certainly easier to find, unless you’re a member you don’t get more than a pretty picture of the building’s facade.

Boodle’s

If you’re wondering what happened to the group on the other side of the split that formed Brook’s, you have only to look down St. James Street to Boodle’s.

Boodles, Via WikiCommons
Boodles, Via WikiCommons, by Debonairchap

While the other group met at Almack’s coffee house, this group, friends of Lord Shelburne, future Marquess of Lansdowne and Prime Minister, met at the tavern. The tavern was taken over by Edward Boodle, from whom the club takes it’s name.

It moved to it’s current location on St. James Street in 1782. It almost closed in 1896, but the members gathered enough funds to purchase the club from the heirs.

Probably the reason Boodle’s is mentioned less in Regency novels is that the club became the meeting place of the gentry while White’s maintained it’s claim to the more senior members of the nobility. While a few titles can be found on Boodle’s membership list, there are considerably more gentlemen than aristocrats.

Boodle’s is the only one of the three clubs that allows female members, though they have their own entrance.

 

How do you feel about Regency heroes being members of these clubs? Which one would you want to belong to?

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

“What place is so proper as the assembly-room to see the fashions and manners of the times, to study men and characters…”  Thomas Wilson, Dancing Master, An analysis of Country Dancing, 1811, pg. 6 of The Dancing Master.

Vanessa here,

It was late. The lights had dulled. I turned to leave, and there across the crowded bookstore, I saw it. A book like no other.

Timed to the subtle Barnes & Noble background minuet, I stepped near and ran a finger along it’s fine spine. It whispered a blurb just for me.

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul—and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master—a man her mother would never approve of—but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life  to her somber village . . . and to her mother’s tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a “good match” in Regency England.

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

It had me at Finding. With The Dancing Master tucked firmly in my grasp, I gave the attendant my coins and fled to a carriage, content in the knowledge I’d found a joy to keep me warm through the frigid Atlanta night.

Vanessa: Today at R&R we have Julie Klassen joining us. Julie, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to Regency Reflections. The Dancing Master ‘s premise really intrigues me. Normally, we see Regency books with the hero as a duke, a barrister, a spy, or maybe a doctor, but a dancing master, not so much.   How did you come up with this idea?

Julie: In Regency England, dancing was one of a limited number of ways young men and women could spend time together or court one another. It was considered such an important social skill that parents hired dancing masters to come into the homes and teach their sons and daughters to dance. “Every savage can dance,” Mr. Darcy says, but unless one wished to dance very ill (Mr. Collins comes to mind) lessons were crucial. So, as an author of half a dozen other books set in the Regency era—and someone who Screen Shot 2013-10-08 dance classloves to dance–it was probably only a matter of time until I wrote about a dancing master. As I say in my author’s note, I learned to dance the box step standing atop my dad’s size 15 triple E shoes. Later, I went on to take every ballroom dance class I could sign up for at the University of Illinois. I even taught a few dance classes of my own through community ed. I enjoyed drawing on all of these experiences to write this book. Like ballroom dancing, I find English country dancing exhilarating, joyful, and just plain fun. I hope to express that joy in the novel.

Vanessa: Wow, Dad has some big shoes to fill. Poor Mr. Klassen, has his work cut out for him, between dad and all of your romantic heroes. Tell me about what kind of research you conducted. Hopefully plenty of dancing.

Julie: I read instructional guides and journals written by dancing masters of ages past, and watched reenactors perform English country dances online. But the best and most enjoyable kind of research was actually learning dances from that period. My dear, long-suffering husband and I went English country dancing several times.

Julie Klassen at the Ball
Julie Klassen at the Ball

I also attended the annual general meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, held in Minneapolis in 2013. There, I took two more dancing classes to polish my skills before the “Netherfield ball,” complete with live musicians and costumes. It was a wonderful experience to dance with fellow Austen fans from around the world.

During the conference, we also watched a BBC production: “Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball.” In this program, a team of experts recreated a private Regency ball, complete with historical food, costumes, music, and dances. Unlike most of the sedate dances we see performed in period movies nowadays, in reality many of the dances of the era were fast paced and lively. Those of us watching were surprised how energetic the dances were, and how the performers (trained dancers in their twenties) were breathing hard and perspiring after a few dances.

By viewing the program and taking the dance classes, I gleaned several details to include in The Dancing Master. For example, when a couple reaches the top or bottom of a long-ways set (line of dancers) they stand out for a round before working their way back up or down the line. This gives couples a breather, and more importantly, a chance to talk and flirt with their partners!

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

Vanessa: Ok, enough of the pleasantries. Julie, tell me about dreamy Alec Valcourt.

Julie: Alec is capable, loyal, and determined to support his mother and sister. He is a sharp dresser, prefers to keep his hands clean, and wields a fencing sword far better than an axe or spade in a rural village where most men are farmers or miners. As you can imagine, this leads to several painful scrapes along the way.

Vanessa: Why is Julia Midwinter the perfect foil to Alec?

Julie: Julia is a bit reckless, flirtatious, and difficult. But like many people in real life, there is more going on beneath the surface—and in her past—that has made her who she is. As the story unfolds and secrets are revealed, Alec begins to see the vulnerable, wounded soul beneath the brash exterior. He learns to understand her and becomes fond of her, especially as she begins to grow and change, and I hope readers will follow his lead.

Vanessa: Growing and changing. Sigh. I know I’ve made a few mistakes on that road. What spiritual truth would have made a difference to Julia, if she had realized it at the beginning?

Julie: All her life, she had been seeking a father’s love and approval. And if she could not have a father’s love, then any man’s approval would do. She had strived so long and so hard to gain attention in the wrong ways and from the wrong people…. If Julia had realized earlier that even though her earthy father failed her, her heavenly father loved her and highly valued her–she might have avoided some of the foolish things she did to try to fill the void left by the absence of a father’s love.

Vanessa: After reading Julia’s and Alec’s story, what else do have for us. There will be more cold nights in Atlanta.

Julie: I am currently working on rewrites for my next Regency-era novel with Bethany House Publishers. It’s a mysterious romance called The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and is due to be released December 2014.

Vanessa: Julie, The Dancing Master, is an amazing book. Asking this of any author is unfair, but if you could sum up the spiritual journey in one word what would it be?

Julie: Grace. I enjoyed weaving in grace in its many forms–social graces, grace in dancing, and most importantly, God’s grace—and I hope readers will be reminded of His amazing grace for us all.

Vanessa: Thank you for being a great sport and sharing this special book with us.

Julie: Thank you for having me here!

Julie Klassen is going to give away a paperback or e-book copy of The Dancing Master to one lucky commenter. Share with us your favorite dance, dance scene, or dance disaster.  Mine took place at last year’s RWA conference when I tried to do a reel. There’s video….

Any way, here’s an excerpt from The Dancing Master:

 “May I help you with something, Miss Midwinter?” Alec said officiously, hoping to chase the self-satisfied grin from her face.

“Yes, actually.” She clasped her hands. “I’ve come for a dancing lesson. Here—since Lady Amelia would never allow it in the house.”

He licked dry lips and felt his pulse rate quicken. Part of him relished the notion of being alone with Miss Midwinter. Enjoying her company and her undivided attention. Taking her hand in his to lead her through a private dance in a deserted churchyard . . . His chest tightened at the thought.

But he knew all too well the possible consequences of such stolen moments. Such seemingly innocent beginnings.

She took a step forward, and he stepped back. She performing the chassé, and he performing the dance of retreat.

He said, “Miss Midwinter. Before we proceed any further, I must tell you that I have a strict policy against any romantic involvement with my pupils.”

She blinked, momentarily taken aback. “In that case, perhaps I ought to reconsider becoming a pupil of yours.”

“Perhaps you should.”

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

Julie s Images-Julie Edited Images-0007JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Find Julie at: Her Blog or FaceBook

Regency Research

I have been editing and proofreading a manuscript I published some years ago, to which I have recently received the publisher’s rights back. I am going over the story in order to self-publish it as an e-book on Amazon. What strikes me about rereading a story written a while ago is how much research goes into writing a regency—or any historical, for that matter. When one is in the process of writing it, one takes this for granted. But when you read it long afterward, it’s enough to make you shake your head. Did I really know all that stuff?

In this story, which takes place in London ballrooms, a country estate, and on the U.S. frontier of Maine, I had to research both the social mores of regency society, the low-class pastimes of regency rakes (cockfighting, gambling, etc.), the sports that the athletic sorts– aka Corinthians–indulged in, before turning to the fledgling settlements of “the Maine Territory,” and the wealth being generated from its pine forests.

So, you can see that a whole range of information was needed in order to build the framework for the love story between my hero and heroine.

Take the gambling game of faro, for example. I’d read enough Georgette Heyer regencies to be somewhat familiar with the game, but I never knew until I researched it that it was played on a board, upon which the cards were laid out like so:

Farolayout
Layout of a Faro Board. Source: Wikipedia

I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to England during the researching of this book. Not only did I visit the London Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts on everyday life in the city over the centuries, but I also discovered a wonderful mansion not too far outside of London. This estate served as a model for the setting of a house party in my story. I was able to tour the rooms and grounds and get the layout for my hero and heroine’s stay at a fictionalized version of Osterley Park. As I walked the area, my plot grew.

Osterley_Park_House,_London-25June2009-rc
Osterley Park House, London. Source: Wikipedia

Lastly I needed to research the city of Bangor, Maine and the logging industry of 1815, before Maine had its statehood. It was still a part of Massachusetts and known as the Maine Territory. But following the War of 1812, those involved in the lumber industry were making a sizable profit cutting down the majestic pine trees of the Maine forests and selling them for ship masts, lumber, and shingles both to Europe and to the American cities farther south. My plot advanced as I imagined my hero going from the ballrooms of London to the rough lumber camps of the Maine woods in winter, then risking his neck on a river drive in spring as the picture below depicts:

lumbermen
Selections from Picturesque Canada, An Affectionate Look Back, Sketch no. 40, 1882-85, Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C.

Of course my hero is a former soldier, who survived the Battle of Waterloo, so he is used to danger. But as a Redcoat among Yankees, he must face many challenges before being accepted into the ranks of the lumbermen. All for the sake of winning the girl.

I hope those who read the updated version of A Rogue’s Redemption will enjoy both the historical detail as well as the timeless love story.