Thursday, 27 April 2017

From Parents to Children!

The joy of having penned a romance novella several years ago - set at the time of the French Revolution *The Highwayman's Mistress* - and thence picking up years later where the children of characters from a previous book take centre stage, and suddenly a series of novellas leaps to the fore, the characters edging and nudging to have their love stories told first. 

In this case Mattijs de Boviere won the toss, his being the son of Francois de Boviere, le Compt of Saint Mont Marche (above) and his mother Diamonta Witaker. 

Part of his story was revealed within a charitable anthology, merely as a very short novelette. Now Mattijs' story and that of the Duchess of Rochester has been upgraded to a novella, rather than a lengthy tome, but that's because more and more readers are seeking shorter reads to fit in with busy lifestyles. Added to that, I do love penning short cut-to-the-chase adventure and romance novellas, more especially since several readers mentioned on FB  they too loved stories devoid of overt blow-by-blow domesticity and lengthy sleep inducing narrative. 

Like all stories there are sub-plots and sub-characters, the extended family if you prefer, where relatives, friends and lovers, vie for attention. 

After all, Randolph's mother, Leohne Countess of Martock, had a secondary leading role in *The Highwayman's Mistress* as did the earl when merely that of Richard Viscount Somerton. So it is only natural all the offspring venturing into romantic *entanglements* wish to be featured within their very own novellas. None less so than Randolph Viscount Somerton, first cousin to Mattijs, the pair having served, albeit in differing cavalry regiments, in the Peninsular Wars and at Waterloo.  

But first things first - a snippet from *The Runaway Duchess*.

He was not her husband, but he was special. Hers for the moment, and the chances were good indulgence thrice would no more bear fruit than had four years of a hurtful, brutal, and barren marriage. It was their last embrace, the sound of movement above stairs bringing sense of reality to the fore, as did the need to assume a detached countenance. And yet there was marked reluctance in her lover to pull away and retreat; his breath as soft as a feather teasing flesh. It was the folding of a moment in time, his words the seal to their secret indulgence as a letter to a lover. 

“It cannot be; as much as I wish otherwise,” whispered he. 


Coming soon....

Friday, 14 April 2017

The long S of Georgian England & Myth Busting.

Given there is much talk about formal address - in the verbal context as well as the written word - within the Regency era, it is a shame when readers accuse authors of having followed true to form with archaic dialogue. For it is true to say, modern dialogue and prose rarely affords sense of real time and place aka Historical settings. 

Thus, for die-hard lovers of historical novels in the vein of Jane Austen and the Queen of the Regency genre Georgette Heyer, modernism is viewed as lack of research on the part of the author, which implies little or no interest in portraying the era within a true light, yes, or no? To an extent the latter is fair comment, at the same time there are readers and Regency enthusiasts who prefer easy read prose and short sentence structure, quite unlike Jane Austen prose where sentences run to long paragraphs. And it is well-known the convoluted sentence structures of Georgette Heyer novels have proven to be unpopular with many modern-day readers. 

But that said, there are die-hard (or supposed die-hard) readers who profess all sorts of claims to this and that, and in doing so oft show their ignorance of England, London, and the English countryside of the Georgian age. London, yes, was quite large, but many well known London boroughs of today were isolated villages with vast green spaces betwixt, not least commons and heaths, and cobbled streets were few and far between excepting close to ecclesiastical buildings, specific precincts, castles, coaching inns, and The Tower et al. 

Windmills were a common sight, water mills too. There are many deep sea inlets around the coast where three masted sailing ships entered, manoeuvred and anchored even where no docks were situated, and ships could traverse (still do) and travel as far as a mile or more inland - off the cuff on quick count Southern England: The Thames up to London, The River Dart (Devon), St Germans Creek Plymouth, Fowey Creek (Cornwall), The Severn, Bristol/Gloucester. The Avon to Bath, yes, coastal ships and sea barges navigated on high tide to Bath early Georgian era.   

This painting is Bath circa early 1700s  

Below you will notice the long S was still in use in 1800, a form of writing that was long thought of as abandoned back in the 18th century (1700s).  

Although I love penning Georgian and Regency romance novels I refuse to abide to a rose-tinted perspective of historical periods in which men of means acquired mistresses at will, and libertines were rife. Nor do I ignore the facts of parish church registers relating to marriages and births, which declare six and seven month pregnancies were higher during the period of the Napoleonic Wars than the post-Restoration years of Charles II and his libertine reign. Whilst it is true to say, it takes two to tango, by that maxim a lot of young Georgian and Regency misses lost their virginity long before they were marched down the aisle by a father who may, or may not have held a pistol to the bridegroom’s back afore hand. Thus I am bold enough to present stories of a realistic bent in which passions of a romantic nature oft start innocently enough, until a potent kiss stirs feelings and needs that override good sense in the heat of the moment. Hence my novels and novellas range from sensual to steamy; as and when the characters feel the need to express more than mere sentiments with spoken words.

It is also a myth inspired and perpetuated by authors of Regency romances that most, if not all young ladies of good breeding had chaperones. Jane Austen frequently walked alone in places where she lived, not least in the City of Bath, thus her heroines' reflect that same freedom to come and go as they wished and without parental supervision or companionship of a maid, maiden aunt, or other. The reason adult females accompanied a young miss on her first outing to Almack’s/Almacks – either form of the latter is correct, if one looks at differing time-frames on invitations signed and dispatched by the patronesses – the same rule applied to the opera or the theatre, all places where it was considered unseemly for unsupervised young ladies to attend in the company of adult gentlemen.

A secondary myth abounds to do with Almack’s/Almacks, in which young gentlemen could secure an invitation for a young lady to attend at functions. No, that is utterly incorrect – not even if the young gentleman was her brother or cousin could he obtain an invitation: the only exception being if that gentleman was her legal guardian. Aunts and married female cousins could elicit an invitation from the patronesses if the aunt or cousin had access to or a close connection to a patron of Almack’s/Almacks inner circle.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Penning earthy Georgian and Regency Romances.

“...she had never thought it was possible to fall in love at first sight...”

An arranged marriage against her will and Erica Townsend is at odds with her father, and worse, he is not the father she had thought he was when friends and acquaintances of his pay visit to the family house. Albeit initially intrigued and voyeuristically mesmerised by an event that unfolds within the garden arbour, she and her younger sister decide they cannot remain within a house where Erica’s betrothed debauches other women at will, as does their father. Desperate in seeking the help of a gentleman neighbour who is sweet on her sister, their chosen escape route is fraught with temptations along the way. Whilst Erica dares to appear bolder than she is, can she truly trust the Earl of Epsom, or is he as much a libertine as her betrothed?

If you feel inclined toward realistic and earthy accounts of Georgian and Regency romance and love stories that are often linked in some way, you may have discovered from reading some of mine, that characters from one book often reappear in another. I sincerely hope readers enjoy discovering who fraternises with whom in the years spanning the Georgian period and the Regency era!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Purchase of Military rank in Regency era - before & after.

The Rose tinted aspect of Regency Romance Novels & the thorny issue of missing key facts when writing Historical Fiction. 


Not all regiments were open to purchase of rank! The RMA (Royal Military Academy) was founded in 1741 at Woolwich to train gentlemen cadets for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, and later for the Royal Corps of Signals.

The RMC (Royal Military College) began in 1800 as a school for staff officers which later became the Staff College, Camberley. A Junior Department was formed in 1802, to train gentlemen cadets as officers of the Line. A new college was built at Sandhurst, into which the cadets moved in 1812. After 1860, the RMC succeeded the East India Company’s Military Seminary as the establishment where most officers of the Indian Army were trained. Following the abolition of the purchase system in 1870, attendance at Sandhurst became the usual route to a commission. The college was enlarged in 1912, when New College was built.

The RMAS (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst) as we know it today at Sandhurst was formed in 1947. It was descended from two older institutions, the Royal Military Academy (RMA) and the Royal Military College (RMC).

Commissions could only be purchased in cavalry and infantry regiments, and therefore up to the rank of Colonel only. Commissions in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery were awarded to those who graduated from a course at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and subsequent promotion by seniority. Such officers (and those of the Army of the British East India Company), were often looked down upon as being "not quite gentlemen" by officers who had purchased their commissions. Not all regiments were open to purchase of rank!


The Royal Navy never practised the sale of commissions, with advancement in officer ranks being solely by merit and/or seniority. But, if your father was an admiral or vice admiral the chances were good you would attain advancement faster on the proviso you passed relevant exams/tests!  

Time and time again I keep encountering blog posts referring to purchase of Army and Navy commissions, and many of the blog posts are inaccurate. So this is a short reminder for authors of not only Regency novels, but other periods in history where you have chosen a British naval officer as your hero etc. No one, not even aristocrats could "purchase a commission" within the English Royal Navy. New recruits had to start at the bottom as "Midshipman" and that went for any boy from a good family to a duke's son. Some boys, such as Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson, started as servants to a senior officer. 

Midshipmen were usually the sons of wealthy or aristocratic families training to become commissioned officers. The majority were from seafaring families with a long history of serving King & Country at sea, either as naval personnel or became privateers once they had gained a captaincy. They joined the navy at the age of 12 to 14 and were easily identified by the white patch on the collar of their uniform. They were taught navigation, astronomy and trigonometry by the ship's schoolmaster as well as undertaking watches on deck, To gain higher rank they were required to sit exams, stiff exams, and many failed and often left the navy and instead purchased a commission within the Army Regiments.

Monday, 13 February 2017

New Release & Spinsterhood Plots!

"A love at First Sight novella"

The Back cover blurb:

One grave transgression in her past, and Lady Louise de Winter, has accepted all hope for love and romance is but a dream she dare not embrace.

Aware her semi-closeted existence on the Harcourt Estate is no more, and a substantial inheritance awaits her pleasure, her friend Count Casarotto suddenly brings his personal troubles to her door and seeks sanctuary. Worse, pursued by officers of his majesty’s regiment of horse, Louise endeavours to conceal his presence despite qualms as to his innocence when the bare facts are laid before her. What is more, devastatingly attracted to the senior officer, Louise battles to retain sense of propriety as burning desire within takes hold. But despite Major Fitzwilliam’s reassurance he cares not a jot about her past, the truth remains she is not as other young would-be brides. Therefore, dare she give her heart into his care? 

And my thoughts on writing Spinsterhood plots!

Spinsterhood plots are quite a common trope within Georgian and Regency novels, and in general the heroine becomes a governess or a companion to some flighty young miss, which in turn provides sense of purpose in her otherwise lonely existence. Often as not the heroine secretly falls in love with a father or guardian, and he likewise secretly falls for the sometimes irksome, and or withdrawn governess, and as time passes, often by way of tedious blow-by-blow accounts of the hero and heroine glimpsing each other amidst her domestic duties and his the drudgery of business, eventually a love bell will ring and the hero and heroine finally admit their feelings for one another.  Whereas the Lady Louise de Winter amounts to none of those things so readily associated with spinsterhood. She bears a secret from her past, and her present life is not as expected of a spinster. Louise is a woman who has love to spare but dare not display it. Born to wealth and a title, and on the death of her father she has a substantial inheritance, and independent income. But love at first sight, as happens for her and the hero in her story is akin to a lightning storm, each knowing something has sparked between then, both aware it can burn if they cross the divide without sense of honesty. Truth, absolute truth, can sometimes kill desire, and therein lies the risk of losing someone who touches your heart as no other has. Some dilemmas are best served in the heat of the moment, or delivered with cold realism before the touch paper is lit?  But Fate is unpredictable, as is the outcome of Louise's story as she walks and rides in her father's footsteps within a second place he truly thought of as his home!  

       Amazon UK    Amazon US

Thursday, 26 January 2017

New Steamy Novella.

A Coaching Accident, a Regency New Year Fancy Dress Ball, and a Devilish Masquerade will ensue.

The cynical Melbourne, Earl Standish, has resigned himself to a bachelor existence in which a mistress is a damn sight safer than young chits with mother’s who are hell-bent on securing a title for their daughters. Stealing the cherry as sporting game has never been his gambit, until that is, a coaching accident, involving his sister and the Danby family, thrusts an irresistible young lady into his sightline. Conventions of hospitality must be afforded to the rescuers of his sister, and with a New Year ball imminent at Norton Priory, Standish is hopelessly smitten, but he has two brothers and the elder of the two is a renowned cherry stealer. Can the Earl overcome his misgivings and rejoin the Marriage Mart – and will the rakish brother let him steal away with Cecily Danby?

True to the traditional romance of Regency England coaches and horses feature greatly within Regency novels, and of course coaching accidents were not as uncommon as modern-day thinkers tend to assume. Some coaching accidents were fatal for passengers, especially those thrown overboard from up top,  Other coaching accidents, often in perilous weather conditions were almost as deadly. Thus a coaching accident features in this novella, and is the opening to a tale involving the original Cinderella fairy tale, though Cecy is no poor mistreated Cinderella. But the story reveals all, so I'll leave it there, except to say the coaching accident leads to a stay at Norton Priory, and that  is where Cecy learns who she really is, after seventeen years of believing she is someone else! 


So what does this once ecclesiastical building hold in store for Cecy?  

Amazon US      Amazon UK

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dispelling Myths - People didn't take Baths

Dispelling Myths - People didn't take Baths in 16th-17th century etc - in reference to Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

In actual fact, throughout history, people bathed more than historians declare - as can be seen within private journals circa 17th century. The reason they wore perfume and carried pomanders was to kill the stench of the streets where the saying Gardy Loo had purpose before the pitching of effluent from chamber pots to street gully. Hence the wealthy abandoned cities in warm weather, as often as they could and retreated to their country abodes. There's a huge myth the aristocracy abided to seasonal Parliamentary sittings - not those who didn't give a toss about politics, and that was the majority. Yes, they had town houses, in many cases owned streets of houses leased out to the middling merchant/trader classes, but in most cases they only attended specific events, and tended to swan about with a mistress rather than have their family with them. Even the court retired to the country - often. The upper merchant class owned their own vast properties, but of course the lower class were unable to take flight to fresh air unless they paid visit to relatives who were a bit farther distant, bearing in mind Chelsea was a village with open green fields as were other places of note such as Putney where there were windmills on Putney heath - Greater London didn't exist!

Casting stone built Roman baths aside, Wooden baths were little different than wooden baths of the 16-17th centuries resembling cut off ale barrels. Not the little brandy and port barrels, the biggies. Then there were tin (Roman baths) carried with armies for officers and tin baths carried on alongside wooden ones for centuries. Then came the Georgian era and the ever present copper pans, kettles, and yes, Baths. Note the differing wooden baths, the tin one used in the Poldark series, and the Georgian copper. 

For more in depth reference go here