Tag: Regency

Why Regency?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a fan of the Regency fiction genre. You’re all about high-waisted dresses, chaperones, Almack’s, Gunther’s, house parties, and more.

But do you know why there ever was a Regency? It was madness! The madness of King George III. His health required the contingency plan of a prepared handing off of the reins of power – this plan laid out a form of emergency government/royal powers which was known as the regency. It’s a situational set-up for when a monarch is unable to fulfill his duties.

You can’t uncrown a living king, right? So, in their wisdom, the high advisors of the land made the Prince of Wales, eventually Goerge IV, the Prince Regent.

King George III (king during the American Revolution) had a disease now thought to be Porphyria. Porphyria is a rare blood disease and drove the king to complete madness and seclusion in 1810.

King George III
(“Farmer George”)

For Americans, King George III is a vaguely hated figure, because of the Revolutionary War, but he doesn’t sound all bad. His nickname was “Farmer George” due to his keen interest in agriculture. Said to be a devout Christian, he was a dedicated, yet repressive parent (not enough grace?), a faithful husband, and a plain-living man. The information about his interests is fascinating, if you decide to learn more, and the manner in which his first born son rebelled is an instructive cautionary tale.

The Prince Regent,
King George IV, (“Prinny”)

Do you enjoy knowing the nicknames of historical figures? If you know some, please share in the comments.

Originally posted 2014-01-13 10:00:00.

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:

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. 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:

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.



Originally posted 2013-11-25 10:00:00.

Happy Birthday, Regency Style

Kristi here. Yesterday I had the blessing of being invited to the most epic children’s birthday party I have ever scene. I also celebrated my own birthday yesterday, eating an overindulgence of cake and ice cream.

In the Regency era, birthdays were a very different thing. Unless you were considered a very important personage, such as royalty, your birthday passed with minimum fuss, if at all.

Queen Charotte's BallRoyal birthday parties were often elaborate celebrations. They were often used as excuses for other political or social purposes. Queen Charlotte’s birthday celebrations were held annually in January or February, signalling a start to the Season. They were also an opportunity for people to be officially presented at court.

The Queen’s birthday, however, was actually in May, closer to the end of the Season than the beginning.

The Prince Regent held a grand fete at Carlton House that was officially to honor the King’s birthday. In reality it was a celebration of his rise to power as the Regent.

Wealthy families would sometimes mark and celebrate birthdays, particular milestone birthdays and those of the heir. Possibly no celebration was as large for these families as the one held on the occasion of the first son’s birth. Large parties and dances would be held to celebrate the heir’s birth.

As you traveled down the social ladder, birthdays became less and less recognized. Perhaps you got a small gift or the honor of eating with your parents instead of in the nursery. If you were very poor, a small piece of candy might be the only thing to mark the occasion.

As time moved into the Victorian era, birthday celebrations slowly shifted into the annual events we know today.

What is your favorite birthday memory?

Originally posted 2013-09-23 10:00:00.

Flashback Friday ~ Organized Sports During the Regency

We’re pulling out some of our favorite posts from our first few months of blogging. Many of our loyal readers hadn’t found us yet when these were posted, so we’re giving them a new life. 

As football season begins in America, the thrill of sports teams and competitions takes over a good bit of society. Today we pull an article from March of 2012 that looks at the organized sports men and women of the Regency would have gotten excited about. 

Flashback Friday ~ Originally published March 5, 2012.

Ah, Spring. When a young American man’s fancy turns to brackets and basketballs and he is likely to put more consideration into picking which college to root for than he did selecting which college to attend. There’s a reason it’s called March Madness.


Kristi here, and the fascination with sports is not a new one. The Regency era saw a culture on the cusp of the organized sporting events. While many games remained unofficial skirmishes, there were several championship challenges emerging by the beginning of the Victorian era. And of course, all of them got gambled on.

 Royal Ascot – Horse Racing

In 1711, Queen Anne acquired land near Ascot in which to hold horse races. The first race had a purse of 100 guineas. By 1813, races at Ascot were such a part of the fabric of England that Parliament stepped in, passing an act to ensure the racing grounds remained a public racecourse.


Prinny, the future King George IV, made Ascot one of the most fashionable social occasions of the year. After ascending to the throne, he had a new stand built for the exclusive use of guests of the royal family. The Royal Enclosure still exists today and admittance to it is very difficult to obtain.

The Royal Ascot was, and still is, a four day event. It was the only racing event held at the racecourse during the 19th century. England’s elite would gather to watch horses above the age of six barrel through the course in pursuit of the Gold Cup.

The grandeur of the original races continues today in the strict dress code requiring formal day dresses and those infamous hats for the attending ladies. Men must still wear the morning suits and top hats as a nod to the Regency era.

During the early 1800s, fashion was always important to the upper class and the Royal Ascot was certainly no exception. The importance of dressing right for the races even lent its name to the traditional wide morning tie, now known as an Ascot Tie.

The Royal Ascot takes place in June, one of the last hurrahs of Spring Season.

 Players Vs Gentlemen – Cricket

This amateur against professional game of cricket actually skipped over the true Regency. It began in 1806, disappeared for a while, and then re-established as a yearly tradition in 1819. It remained in place until 1962 where is phased out again only to be revived in recent years, with matches in 2010 and 2011.

At the time of conception the Gentlemen, or amateurs, were largely aristocratic men who had played during their school years. The Players were professionals, paid to play by various county cricket clubs.

Unlike professional athletes of today, the professionals weren’t hired to play each other but rather to play the gentlemen that were members of the cricket clubs. Rather like a tennis pro or golf pro at a modern day country club.

The game lasted for three days and usually took place at Lord’s. Not including the most recent matches, the Players had 125 wins to the Gentlemen’s 68. Today the Players are professional athletes from England’s competitive cricket circuit and the Gentlemen tend to be pulled from the University cricket teams.

 Intercollegiate Sports – The Boat Race

Colleges had always prized physical skill in addition to mental learning, but it wasn’t until the early Victorian era that they began to officially meet each other on the playing field. Prior to this point, most collegiate athletic competitions were between houses within the college.

Cricket and Rowing competitions between Oxford and Cambridge both started in the 1820s.

The Boat Race, as it is still referred to today, began in 1829 and has had a tumultuous history ever since. It would be another twenty-five years before the race settled into being an annual event, but the spirit and drive that propels people from different schools to meet on the field, or river in this case, of athletic competition was alive and well during the Regency. Currently Cambridge is on top, with 80 wins to Oxford’s 76. This year’s race will be held in April.

What sports competitions do you get excited over? What was the last major sporting event you went to see?

Originally posted 2013-09-13 10:00:00.

The War of 1812 ~ Guest Post by Roseanna M. White

A privateer boat in War of 1812
The Chasseur, one of the most famous privateers of the War of 1812. This Baltimore
captain harassed the British merchant fleet in their own waters.

You know, it’s really kind of funny. When reading the Regency-set novels I so love, I often find references to the on-going war with France and the audacity of Napoleon. Only rarely, however, do we see the British perspective of another war going on at the same time, one with the upstart Colonists that had declared their independence a generation before. Even America often forgets their War of 1812, and in Europe…well, it tends to dim in comparison to the Napoleonic Wars. It’s become overlooked by both sides. But oh, how interesting it is!

In 1811, England had been fighting France for long enough that the escalating troubles with America were little more than a nuisance at first. They sent men and ships, but for the first two years of the war, their focus remained set upon France. In North America, they were concerned largely with protecting their Canadian assets, using raids along the Chesapeake to distract American forces from their invasion northward. After Napoleon surrendered, however, everyone–both British and American–new exactly what it meant.

It was time for the fighting to get serious in America.

Not only were those in the Admiralty tired of fooling around with the upstarts, but the citizenry were beginning to fuss about the audacity the Americans demonstrated in this second fight, even sending privateers to harass the British in their own waters! They demanded that the Americans’ cities be burned and her people crushed for their impudence. Ready, I daresay, for a breath of peace, more men and ships were sent from Europe to Bermuda and then, finally, to either the Chesapeake or Canada.

Privateers at war during the battle of 1812
Privateers engaged in battle during the War of 1812

But the men were weary. After months and years of suffering in the war with Napoleon, followed by months idle on the ships across the Atlantic, their hearts weren’t in it. More, the humid mid-Atlantic summer–one of the hottest recorded–caused heat-stroke left and right. More men were felled by vicious storms and intense heat for the first few months than by the sword or shells.

For many, this second war with America was but a P.S. to the first. The Revolution went wrong, they were sure, because of bad leadership decisions. Their men–the fathers of those now in charge– were killed or injured because of this. So it was their duty to put it to rights, especially when America persisted in ignoring the laws of citizenship and rights-upon-the-seas that England had held to for centuries.

It was, for many of those involved, a war no one wanted to fight. It was an afterthought to some and forgotten by many more since. A war based on little more than affronted prides. But like any other, it was also a war with heroes and bravery and determination. And as such, it deserves to be remembered.

Especially now, during its two-hundredth anniversary.


Roseanna-WhiteRoseanna M. White pens her novels under the Betsy Ross flag hanging above her desk, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s editing it for WhiteFire Publishing or reviewing it for the Christian Review of Books, both of which she co-founded with her husband. The first book in her Culper Ring Series, Ring of Secrets, is set during the American Revolution and available now.

Fairchild’s Lady, a FREE bonus novella starring a secondary character from that first book is available for pre-order and will release June 1. The second book in the series is set during the War of 1812–Whispers from the Shadows releases this August.

Culper Ring Series

Originally posted 2013-05-29 10:00:00.

What to do with all that grass ~ Lawn Games in Regency England

Kristi here. The vast lawns of many English country estates lent themselves well to a variety of games. This is a very good thing, as I’m sure many a guest was thankful for the room to move in the outdoors during a crowded country house party.

Battledore and Shuttlecock

One such game that was popular during Regency England was Battledore and Shuttlecock. A combination of modern day badminton and hacky-sack, two or more players would attempt to keep the feathered shuttlecock in the air by hitting it with small rackets, called battledores.

Three young girls play Battledore and Shuttlecock
Three young girls play Battledore and Shuttlecock, via Wikimedia Commons

As near as anyone can tell, this game originated in Greece around 1BC. Although it appears to have initially spread east from there so he likely never played it, the fact that people played this game while Jesus walked the earth is a little mind-boggling.

The game remained largely unchanged until the mid-1800s when the English added a net to the game and it became badminton.

It isn’t surprising, really, that such a simple game remained popular for so long, when you consider people’s natural tendency to play “keep it up” with just about anything. The hack-sack craze in the 1990s, a beach ball in a stadium full of people, or a balloon in the midst of more than one toddler. We love to see how long we can defy gravity.


Similar to modern day Bocce, Bowls, or lawn bowling, is not nearly as old at Battledore and Shuttlecock, but it was certainly not new to the Regency game player. Definitively traced back to the 13th century, Bowls was played with a series of balls, specially formed with a bias so they would roll on a curve.

men playing bowls 1945
This picture of men playing bowls in 1945 will give you an idea of how the game looked. Picture via wikimedia commons

In simple terms, Bowls is played by seeing who can get their ball the closest to the “jack” a smaller white ball thrown out at the beginning of the game as a target. This game could be played alone or in teams, making it ideal for either a leisurely family afternoon or a house party event.

The game became so popular, that Henry VIII feared the practice of archery – then a crucial element of battle –  would suffer. He made it illegal for all but the wealthy to partake of the game, leaving those who made bows, arrows, and arrowheads plenty of time to work on their craft. Even the well-to-do were limited, with the rule that they could only play on their own lands and must pay a fee of 100 pounds to maintain their own bowling green.

This ban was lifted shortly after the Regency ended and today it remains one of the main lawn games played in English-cultured nations around the world.

Did you play lawn games growing up? What is your favorite? What

Originally posted 2013-05-27 10:00:00.

A Bit of Seabathing Would Set Me Up Forever ~ Regency Seaside Resorts

Kristi here. Great Britain, in case you’ve never noticed, is an island. This water-locked state meant that travel beyond the borders was expensive, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous. While some still traveled, choosing to spend months if not years abroad in Europe, the state of the things with Napoleon at the beginning of the Regency era had many taking holiday trips a little closer to home.

Sea-bathing was an extremely popular pursuit, giving rise to many seaside resort towns that rose and fell in the elite’s fickle popularity. The idea was that the mineral-rich waters would heal many of a body’s ailments. More than likely it was the removal from the smog-encrusted air of London and the bit of exercise that proved beneficial.

Mermaids at Brighton - a group of women seabathing
“Mermaids at Brighton” by William Heath via Wikimedia Commons

The process of seabathing was a bit cumbersome. Because of the need for modesty, women and men did not enter the waters together. Large changing houses would be wheeled to the water’s edge. Women would change into their very cumbersome swimming costumes and then exit the back door of the changing house and enter the water.

Many small towns on along England’s southern coast tried to lure the rich to visit. They started large seaside building projects including piers, guest houses, and shops. Where sleepy fishing villages had once lived, tourist draws now reigned. Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, was about one such town. It depicted the exaggerations and tales that those craving progress were prone to tell to lure the elite while those who were more practical and liked their town the way it was bristled at the massive changes. Sadly, we have no idea how Austen would have ended her novel. Would Sanditon have become a successful town? Or would it be stuck with progressive buildings and a disgruntled populace?

Some of those real seaside villages were successful. Towns such as Eastbourne, Blackpool, and Ramsgate achieved a certain level of popularity, but no town could compete with Brighton during the Regency thanks to the Prince Regent’s frequent visits there.

The stables at Brighton Pavilion
The stables at Brighton Pavilion, via wikimedia Commons

Brighton Pavilion, the royal residence in the area, underwent significant renovations under the Prince Regent. It was turned into a showplace with spires and turrets galore. Nothing was overlooked in creating the splendor of Brighton Pavilion. Even the stables were a work of architectural art.

Because of the Prince’s preference, Brighton won the seaside battle in the early 19th century. It was rivaled only by Bath, which while not actually located on the coast, had the benefit of an abundant natural spring of hot, mineral rich water. Many sickly people moved permanently to Bath.

Are you a beach-goer? What is your favorite seaside town to visit?

Originally posted 2013-05-22 10:00:00.

Purification or Poison?

“Mince-pie..is as essential to Christmas, as..tansy to Easter.”

(Quoted from The Connoisseur’” Magazine in 1767, by http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/tansy,ortansypudding.htm)*

Besides the deep spiritual significance of Easter lies the cultural traditions that arise from every holiday and holyday possible in every culture. Most of these traditions center around specific foods. Yet why these foods?

HamOne common Easter tradition is to serve ham. Yes, it makes a great deal of sense in that it’s easy to prepare for a large crowd; however, the reason why ham became a traditional Easter meal is that, after a long winter past harvest and slaughter, ham was one of the few meats still edible in the larder.

Likewise we have the lamb. The lamb being slaughtered and consumed holds numerous spiritual aspects with Jesus being the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins. It is also a Passover food. And spring lambs would have been abundant in a country like England awash in sheep.

I won’t get into the coloring and consuming of eggs at Easter. Eggs do symbolize life, which is the entire meaning of Easter—eternal life through the Resurrection; however, the coloring of eggs in spring holds its roots firmly in pagan culture.

tansiesOne Easter tradition that seems to have died out—and with rather good reason—is the consumption of tansy.

Tansy is an herb with yellow flowers and lobed leaves that closely resemble ferns. Tansy holds some disputed medical benefits. And tansy is also a poison.

At first, tansy was eaten during lent to symbolize the bitter herbs. Later, it was baked into a pudding. I have found numerous recipes for tansy pudding from ancient housekeeping books, and included a couple in Friday’s upcoming post. These look rather like baked omelets.

Why tansy? For one thing, it was usually in leaf by Easter. More importantly, though, tansy is a purgative, a purifying agent. In small doses, it cleanses the system of parasites and other unwanted guests like bacteria. After a winter of eating salt-preserved and smoked meats, dried apples and root vegetables, people probably had collected a worm or two in their systems. (I know—ee-ew.) A slab of tansy pudding, and a body would feel far better. Two slices of tansy pudding, and a body would quite possibly be dead.

Be sure to come back Friday and see what it actually took to make the Tansy puddings.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

Originally posted 2013-04-03 10:00:00.

A Suitable Match Epilogue and Prize Package Winner!

Thank you for joining us as we celebrate our first year. We had a lot of fun writing A Suitable Match and we hope you enjoyed reading it.

The winner of our fabulous prize package is…

Anne Payne

Congratulations, Anne! We’ll be sending you an email to get your mailing address. We hope you enjoy all your goodies!

Did your favorite man lose the poll? Don’t despair. For those of you who loved Twiford and Ross, we wanted to let you know what happened to them. 

London, England
July 1818

Twiford smiled as he read the letter from his good friend, Chard. It was short, a mere four lines scrawled across the paper to say that Chard had caught up with Cressida at the George and Pelican and they were getting married.

It had nearly killed Chard to wait until after the deadline to pursue Cressida. After burying his uncle, he’d shown up on Twiford’s doorstep, begging his old friend to keep him away from his love until the money was no longer an issue. It had been no easy request. Twiford nearly had to lock Chard in a room to keep him here, but the renewal of their old friendship had been worth two days of playing jailer.

As he refolded the note, running his fingers along the edges to sharpen the creases, Twiford examined his heart for the pain he had though this news would bring.

Much to his relief, there was none. He was truly free of the specter that was his affection for Cressida Blackstone.

When had it faded? Three months ago, pleading his case in a rocking chaise on the road to London, he vowed his love was a bright, burning fire that had withstood three years absence and the devastation of a close friend. Could love that strong die so quickly? Or had he been in error that he loved her at all?

He tossed the letter on the desk and strode from the room. Before the letter arrived, he’d asked to have his curricle readied and brought round. It should be out front by now.

As he shrugged into his greatcoat and donned his hat, it occurred to him that the situation was not as cut and dried as he was trying to make it. His love had been very real, but over the last three months he had gotten to know Cressida – the real Cressida – and discovered that the woman he loved, or thought he loved, wasn’t real. She had changed as much as he had with the passing of years. Over time he’d built her up, given her characteristics and ideologies that weren’t truly a part of her.

The real Cressida was a fine woman and he was glad to consider her a friend. But he didn’t love her. Though he had felt crushed when she rejected him three months earlier, he now felt freed by her honesty and strength. He was glad to know her, but glad not to be bound to her.

The sun glinted off the trim on his curricle as the jangle of harness filled his ears. He settled into the seat with anticipation swirling in his belly. Part of him had wondered, worried, that he still held feelings for Cressida. When Chard’s letter brought nothing but happiness, Twiford knew his heart was free.

He snapped the reins to send his curricle rolling down the street. Now that he knew without a doubt his heart was entirely his own, he knew exactly who he wanted to give it away to.

An overturned flower wagon caused him to pull to a stop. The mess was nearly cleaned up, so he decided to wait. Casting his eyes heavenward, he marveled at how life at come together in a few short months. “Thank you, Lord, for having a better plan than my own.”

The flower seller bemoaned the loss of his merchandise, drawing Twiford’s attention to the last of the flowers strewn across the road. He could probably buy the entire wagonload for a mere pittance. They may be too bruised and broken to sell as bouquets, but they would be quite lovely carpeting the front steps of a London townhome. Calling to the seller, he decided to put his fledgling idea into motion.

There was a young lady a few streets over that loved flowers, sunshine, and curricle rides. As Twiford moved on, a now beaming flower seller following, he prayed the young lady also loved him.


Ross Ainsworth walked into the solicitor’s office, unsure of what the man would tell him. He wasn’t even sure what he wanted to hear. Had Cressy managed to get married? He’d been by Lady Dove’s house a few days ago and nearly tripped over all the gentlemen vying for her attention. Maybe she’d married one out of desperation. Or maybe she’d traded in on her friendship with Twiford and decided to marry him after all. She certainly hadn’t come knocking on his door.

He wouldn’t blame her either way. Ross knew what it was to be destitute. To wonder where the next meal would come from, if he’d be able to afford shelter for the next week, let alone the next month. Lack of money made people do much stupider things than marry someone they didn’t love. He ran a finger along his scar. Sometimes it made you ruin your life.

Whatever news the solicitor had, it wouldn’t affect Ross overmuch. He and Cressy were family. Marriage wouldn’t change that. The money would be nice, the property even nicer, but he was well enough off now to not be in dire need of either.

“Thank you for coming, Mr. Ainsworth. It appears that Miss Blackstone did not meet the requirements of the will. The jewels, property, and money now belong to you.”

Ross shook his head and smiled. Well done, Cressy. He’d prayed she would hold out for love. One thing Ross had learned when he abandoned family and country was that life without love was dismal. The road back and been long and hard, and he was no longer the carefree youth that had thumbed his nose at his grandmother’s concerns. He wished she had been able to see the man he had become.

Business at the solicitor wrapped up quickly and he left a richer man than he’d walked in. What was he going to do now? The truth was he could do anything. He had property and money. He could be a gentleman of leisure. Maybe toss his lot in with the other third tier bachelors in London and try to find himself a wife. With no title and a questionable past he wasn’t as desirable a catch as Twiford or Chard, but he had money and good looks. For some, that would be enough.

But the Season was winding down and the balls and routs held little appeal. He’d suffered the social scene for three months to be near Cressida in case she had a change of heart. He’d been hurt when she didn’t choose him, but God knew what was best. After visiting a few young ladies in Town, he knew that he would be finding his wife elsewhere.

The fact was he was tired of London. He returned to his rooms and began packing. There was somewhere for him to go now. A place he could call home. Being a country gentleman seemed a nice change of pace.

He made the trip in two days, hearing about Chard’s dramatic proposal to Cressida when he stopped to spend the night at The George and Pelican. Settling in was easier than he anticipated, the familiarity of childhood returning to make him feel at home.

Several neighboring gentlemen called to acquaint themselves with the new owner. Some he’d known as a child, but most were new to him. The quieter life away from London suited him immensely. He’d seen too much of the world to be satisfied with the glossy facade of the capitol, though nearby Bath wasn’t much better. The small area where he now lived, though, seemed real, honest. It was a place a man could raise a family to love the Lord and country.

He was walking down the street a few days after returning home, not really looking where he was going, thinking about what God might have in store for him now. His musings were cut short as he accidentally bumped into a group of women leaving the milliner’s shop.

“I beg your pardon!” Ross stooped to collect the fallen packages. When he stood again, he found himself looking into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. They were framed by twin sets of golden ringlets and sprinkling of freckles. There was a seriousness in her eyes that was at odds with the impish smile on her lips.

For the first time in a long while, Ross wanted to buck the strictures of polite society. He wanted to meet this girl, find out how someone could be happy and sad at the same time. But they hadn’t been introduced, and he knew none of the other women in the party.

“Mother,” the girl called, while still looking Ross in the eye. “Are my new gloves damaged? I want to wear them to the dance at the Assembly Rooms tonight.”

Ross raised his eyebrows and fought to keep the grin from his lips.

The young woman’s lips twitched, as if she too were fighting to urge to grin. “Perhaps that young gentleman Father met will be there. A Mr. Ainsworth I believe he said.” She tilted her head in inquiry.

Ross nodded slightly and gave way to the smile he’d been holding back.

The young woman’s mother huffed over and linked arms with her daughter. “You would know more about your gloves than I do, considering the package is in your own hands.” She cast a dark glance a Ross, before shaking her head and giving him a small smile. “And I daresay your father, who went to visit that young man this morning, will be happy to introduce you should he show up at the Assembly Rooms just around the corner with the white brick front.”

Ross nodded at the mother. He watched them walk away before turning and making his own way home, a bit more spring in his step. Yes, indeed, he thought he would like living life in the country.

Thanks for joining us. Did you enjoy A Suitable Match? We’d love to hear your thoughts and invite you to stick around as we go back to our regular blog schedule with history, book highlights, and more fun discussions. Leave us a comment letting us know what you’d like to see this year on Regency Reflections. 

Originally posted 2013-02-27 10:00:00.

A Suitable Match, Section 9, And the Readers’ Choice is…

MatchCoverTo kick off our second year of celebrating Inspirational Regency fiction, we are presenting the serial story, A Suitable Match. At the end of the month we’ll be giving away a fabulous prize package filled with items tied to the story. There are no hidden items in this section, but you can still enter by finding the items in the previous sections. Details and a list of prizes can be found here. 

Missed an earlier section? Read it here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

 London, England

April 1818

The Grosvenor Square townhouse wasn’t much larger than Cressida’s cottage outside Bath—except it went up instead of out. If Cressida worried about not getting enough exercise with no more need to walk to and from the village for food or ink or church, now that she would live in London with servants, at least for three months, those fears fled with each flight of steps she climbed to her bedchamber. It perched atop the chamber of the peer’s widow, who would act as her chaperone and means of introduction into the ton. That good lady’s chamber sat atop a sitting room atop the dining room.

“I think,” Cressida told Knighting, as she closed the door behind the footmen with their luggage, “you won’t want to be hiking up those steps too many times a day.”

“It’s no trouble, Miss.” Knighting dabbed at her runny nose. “Or won’t be soon enough.”

“Why do you not go to your chamber and lie down. Travel was difficult.”

More difficult than it should have been.

Cressida cast her own bed a longing look. It could have been a pallet on the floor with a single blanket and appealed to her at that moment. Instead, it crowed of its luxurious softness and comfort with each plumped pillow edged in lace, and white satin counterpane embroidered with pink roses. A half hour’s rest was all she needed to set her mind at ease, surely. Thirty minutes alone to think without concerns about being disturbed.

Except she must use those 30 minutes to wash off the dust of travel, change out of her crumpled gown, and pin up her hair before meeting Lady Penelope Dove.

“I suppose I need your help with the hooks on my gown.” Cressida suppressed a yawn. “Do you think any of my gowns are acceptable?”

“I don’t think any of your gowns are acceptable. They are all so out of fashion.”

“That cannot be helped.“ Cressida crossed the room with its step-silencing Persian carpet, and opened the nearest trunk. “Somewhere must be one that isn’t hopelessly crumpled. I don’t wish for you to have to go all the way downstairs to fetch an iron. Perhaps I could—“

“Never.” Horror colored Knighting’s voice and widened her eyes. “I’ll do it. Take that blue sarsnet and find your blue paisley shawl. Perhaps a fichu in the event her ladyship is a high stickler for modesty.”

Cressida was a high stickler for modesty—now. Too many of her gowns from her disastrous Season proclaimed what a flirt she had been then, so desperate to please Father and find a titled gentleman to raise herself up from a cit to, at the least, a gentlewoman, she applied every feminine wile she possessed and had practiced on Ross Ainsworth scarcely old enough to know the meaning of the word “flirt”, then she learned a few more techniques in the art of coquetry from her competitors on the marriage market. She had caught herself the second most desirable bachelor that year.

Miles, Lord Twiford, came first in prospects. He was not merely handsome and titled. He brought a sizable fortune with him. Tristan, Lord Chard, merely possessed the looks and title. Ross Ainsworth offered only his looks and a potential fortune. In the end, she obtained none of them. Now, she could attain any of them with a wave of her fan.

Now that she thought about it, where were her fans? One had gotten so soaked in violet scent when the carriage crashed she left it behind in the inn. That left her with two, as she had sold the rest of the dozens on which she once squandered money, to pay for her silent escape from London. She had been playing with the pink one in the carriage while the gentleman all laid their claims out before her, and must have left it behind when she bolted for the house.

She thought she had left behind the old Cressida that day she knelt in the church with no one around, and asked the Lord to take her heart, her life.

Apparently the prospect of a fortune again and having gentlemen vie for her hand in marriage, had prompted her to take back her life and go her own way with no regard for what she did with her heart. She must spend considerable time in prayer that night—and many days afterward—asking the Lord for guidance. Guidance and a lot of forgiveness.

“Kissing Ross indeed.” She scrubbed at her lips with the back of her hand.

What had intrigued her then repelled her now. The former, flirtatious Cressida would have suggested she kiss all three of the gentlemen to see who intrigued and repelled her.

She shook her head and shoved thoughts of males out of her mind. She must hasten with her toilette before descending to the parlor to meet her dragon for the husband hunting season.

“Surely she isn’t a dragon with a name like Lady Penelope Dove,” Cressida mused aloud.

Cressida expected a delicate little woman in gray satin and gray curls.

What met her in the parlor was a robust woman in purple velvet with a matching turban wound around her dyed red hair. Without offering a word of greeting, she waved a feathered fan large enough to have taken an entire peacock’s tail, to beckon Cressida to stand in front of her, then proceeded to stare at her charge from other side of a truly Roman nose.

“So your great-aunt wasn’t exaggerating when she called you a beauty,” her ladyship declared in a voice like a gong. “that will make up for your lack of fashion sense.”

Cressida opened her mouth to remind the woman she had scarcely had the time or money to refurbish her wardrobe, then closed it again. The problem of her dress would be solved shortly.

And so it was. Before the dragon lady would allow Cressida to set foot in a drawing room, including her own if anyone else was present, she dragged her charge from Grafton House for fabric, to the modiste for the creation, from shoemakers, to glove makers, and half a dozen other businesses in-between.

Each day, when she returned exhausted, Cressida found tributes to her from the three contenders for her hand—hothouse roses from Twiford, wildflowers from Ainsworth, and boxes of bonbons from Chard. Cressida sent notes of thanks to all of them and, even without the dragon lady’s strictures, refused to see any of them.

“I can’t think when any of them are around,” she confided in Knighting amidst a sea of new gowns one day. “When I’m with Twiford, he seems so strong and yet charming, I think he would make a fine husband. When I’m with Ainsworth, I remember what a grand time we had together as children and what friends we were then, and having a husband who is also a friend would be rather nice. And when I’m with Chard. . .”

Those feelings she could not discuss with anyone since she knew no words to sum up a blend of regret, hurt, and fear.

She discussed them a great deal with the Lord, especially the day the dragon decided she was ready for public viewing and escorted her to a rout. “For maximum exposure.”

Although the event occurred on the other side of the square, they took the carriage and sat in a line of vehicles for a full half hour and more awaiting their turn to alight and join the throng streaming into the house, while attempting not to bump into the river of people exiting the house. Cressida proved adept at avoiding collisions until she reached the upper floor, stepped into a parlor, and came face-to-face with Miles, Lord Twiford.

It was more like her face to his coat buttons. She jumped.

His hands closed over her shoulders. “My dear lady, may I say you look stunning this evening?”

She glanced up at his handsome face and believed him. He looked stunned, bowled over, adoring. And all she felt was. . .nothing. She wasn’t embarrassed. She wasn’t giddy, and she wasn’t moved to say anything more than, “I forgive you for how you treated me three years ago, Lord Twiford. Let us place everything there in the past and forget.” With a smile intended to appear artificial, she dropped into a curtsy, then swept around him.

From the corner of her eyes, she saw him heave a sigh deep enough to expand his already broad chest and threaten to pop the seams of his fitted coat. He had gotten the message—he would not be her choice.

A fog surrounded the rest of the twenty minutes necessary to make her way back outside with Lady Dove.

“That went well,” her ladyship said.

It had. Cressida looked at Twiford and knew she had never felt more for him than sadness that they couldn’t have been friends. Perhaps if they had, she could have talked to him about Chard’s need for her fortune and how he would manage once she lost it. Although she believed Twiford’s feelings for her ran as deep as he said, she now realized the only reason why she considered him a possible suitor for her hand was that she would never need to worry that he wanted her fortune—and he was rather fine to look at.

With one suitor dismissed, she prepared herself for encounters with the other two.

Although she attended many social occasions over the next week—balls, breakfasts, and several soirées—she saw neither Ainsworth nor Chard. Chard, she learned quite by accident on the fourth day, had been called away from town on some family emergency. Truth? Or was it a fiction to take himself out of the running?

A twinge sharper than disappointment pinched at Cressida’s heart. Annoyance that he hadn’t sent around a message telling her he was leaving London, or regret she might not see him?

Who she saw while shopping on Bond Street with the dragon, was Ross Ainsworth.

She should have known better than to meet him in public. The sight of him looking rather dashing in a fine coat and pantaloons, made her mouth go dry. Remembering him kissing her made her cheeks grow hot. Remembering how she had kissed him back made her entire body blush. A good thing the dragon was distracted by a shop window.

“Cousin.” He greeted her with a bow.

She curtsied in return. “You look well, Cousin.” She smiled sweetly. “Prosperous. Trading on prospects you may not have?”

His gaze dropped to her lips. “Do I not? I have, you know, done quite well for myself while in my self-imposed exile. Or did you think I was merely after your fortune?”

“I. . . Well, I. . .” She swallowed. She blushed some more. She turned to the dragon. “Allow me to present you to Lady Dove.”

“We are acquainted,” Ross said. “Your servant, my lady.”

“Ross, you scamp.” Lady Dove embraced him like a long-lost son.

The two of them set to talking. Her ladyship tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow, and they strolled down the street, leaving Cressida with Miss Knighting and the package-bearing footman.

Cressida watched Ross’s retreating back, and a smile curved her lips as a weight lifted from her shoulders. She liked knowing Ross was doing well and not merely after her fortune. She was happy he had turned his life over to the Lord. She didn’t in the least mind seeing him walk away from her because she didn’t love him for more than the cousinly affection and antagonism they had enjoyed all their lives.

But did she love Chard still? Perhaps she never had.

Over the next three months, she wavered between longing to see him again, to wanting to give him the cut direct the instant he bothered to show his face in the ton again. Twiford called on her and danced with her often. They developed a lighthearted friendship. Ross called on Lady Dove, and he and Cressida fell into their old camaraderie and affection from before he left England. But Chard merely sent the occasional note wishing her well accompanied by another box of sweets.

And the deadline for when she must wed or lose her chance at a fortune drew nearer and nearer. It grew so near she would have proposed to Twiford or Ross to avoid more crushing poverty for the rest of her life. But Twiford and Ross had both begun to court charming young ladies, a fact Cressida didn’t mind. She was courted by so many gentlemen she wanted to flee back to the country.

In the end, she began to pack two days before her deadline, soaking her beautiful new clothes with her tears. She wished she knew if she wept for the fortune lost or Chard’s unexplained absence.

The day of her deadline, she and Knighting boarded Lady Dove’s traveling coach and headed west on the Bristol Road. That night they took a room at the George and Pelican. She half expected to find all three gentleman awaiting her in the private parlor. She found none and went to bed without any supper, wondering how much money she would get for her gowns in Bath shops. The jewels she had left behind with the solicitors. They would no longer be hers as of midnight.

Midnight came and went with Cressida restless and aching in heart. “Why, Lord, why can I not have had this? I could do much more good with money than without.”

Yet what had she done for the past three months but treat each gentleman as a means to an end instead of appreciating him for the person he was? She had treated Chard that way—interested in his title to elevate herself. If she had accepted his offer in these past three months, she would have, in a sense, married him for money, not the love he wanted. She might never have been certain she loved him or not. Now, knowing she had lost him, she knew she loved him.

Heavy-eyed and heavier hearted, she descended the steps the following morning.

Chard stood in the doorway mud-spattered and stern-faced. “Running away again, Cressy?”

She gripped the banister. “Still chasing a fortune, Chard? You’re too late if you are. It’s no longer mine as of last night.”

Inn servants and guests stopped walking and talking to stare.

Heedless of the audience, Chard paced to the foot of the steps. “No matter what I said to you before, you never believed I wanted more than your fortune. That’s why you ran away.”

“And you didn’t come after me once I was poor. Well, I’m poor again, so you’re wasting your time.” She turned and started up the stairs.

He covered the distance two treads at a time, caught her on the landing and blocked her retreat. “When are you going to stop running away from me?” His face and voice softened. “Running away from us?”

“Who’s running away? You spent the past three months in parts unknown.”

“I’ve been at the bedside of an uncle who deserved my devotion in his last days, considering he paid my father’s debts three years ago.” He raised his hand, lowered it again, lifted it to brush his thumb across her lower lip. “I buried him three days ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry too. Besides helping me get my estate paying again, he told me that if you didn’t love me enough to be honest with me about your fortune, I should let you go and wait for the Lord to provide a bride without money being a part of the equation.” He smiled. “That’s why I waited for today—so your money would no longer be part of the equation.” He curved his hands around her face. “Tell me, Cressida, do you have the answer to the rest of the sum? Do you love me?”

“I just gave up a fortune because I love you too much to give in to the temptation of the other half dozen proposals I received. The money wasn’t worth it.” She peeked at him through her lashes. “Though Twiford is rather dashing in evening dress, and Ross kisses rather—“

He stopped her claim with his lips on hers, firm yet smooth, warm and tasting of rain, sweeter than all the bonbons he had sent her over the past three months.

“Not nearly as well as you,” she finished her previous declaration about kissing ability, without moving her mouth from Chard’s. “But perhaps I need to know for cer—“

He kissed her again, and she was most certain of many things—she did love him, he was a better kisser than Ross, and she had most definitely stopped running away.

In the entryway below, guests and servants applauded.

Did your favorite man win? If he didn’t, be sure to come back Wednesday for a special surprise. 

Remember there is no prize hidden in today’s section. You can enter in the previous sections until 5:00PM Eastern on Tuesday, February 26. The winner will be announced in Wednesday’s post. 

Originally posted 2013-02-25 10:00:00.