Sunday, September 25, 2016

Review: Mary Balogh’s SLIGHTLY MARRIED – Marriage of Convenience Leads to a Regency Love

This is the story of Aidan Bedwyn, a colonel in the British Calvary, and the brother of the Duke of Bewcastle, who makes a promise to a dying soldier who saved his life to look after the soldier’s sister. Upon his return to England, he travels to Ringwood Manor in Oxfordshire only to discover a strange provision in the will of the dead soldier’s father that the sister must marry—within days—to save her home.

Eve, a coal miner’s daughter, has been waiting for her brother, Percy, and her beau, John, the son of an earl, to return. John promised to marry her but he is nowhere in sight and she has heard nothing from him. So when Aidan offers her a marriage of convenience, she accepts to keep the family estate from falling into the hands of her sniveling cousin (who reminded me of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice) and to save a bevy of women and children (and others) she cares for from the streets.

The arrangement that brought about the need for Eve to marry was cleverly done. Eve plays host to a wonderful cast of secondary characters. I liked Eve well enough; she was practically a saint. But Aiden came off a bit of a crusty old guy (even though he was young). It was difficult to imagine the two together. Only at the end did they seem to find a genuine affection for each other.  

The book is a great set up for the series as it introduces you to the Bedwyn siblings.
Buy on Amazon.
The Bedwyn Saga series:

Slightly Married
Slightly Wicked
Slightly Scandalous
Slightly Tempted
Slightly Sinful
Slightly Dangerous

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Teresa Medeiros’ SOME LIKE IT WILD – Captivating Regency with a Highland Twist

Set in 1814, it begins in the Highlands and later moves to the outskirts of London. It tells the story of orphans Pamela Darby and her half sister Sophie. Their mother, a famous actress, was killed in a suspicious fire that Pamela thinks is tied into her mother's friendship with the Duchess of Warrick.

When the Duchess, now dead, ran away from her unfaithful husband, she took her baby son and started a new life in Scotland while laying a trail to France. Only Pamela knows the duchess went to Scotland since only she has the note the duchess left Pamela's mother.

Pamela and her sister need money to live and to save Sophie from a lecherous viscount. They hope to collect the reward for finding the duke's lost heir so they rent a carriage and head for Scotland. When Pamela's search suggests the baby boy died with the duchess, she decides to find a Highlander who can pretend to be the duke's son.

Who should happen along but a highwayman with gray eyes and a god-like body? Connor Kincaid gave up on his dream to restore his clan and has been living the life of a highwayman robbing the dreaded English who murdered his father and mother. He has little to lose and English money and a title to gain, so when Pamela proposes he pretend to be the duke's son, he agrees. When he gets to London, the old duke easily accepts him as his son saying he has his mother's eyes. Conner is happy to play along. He decides that to keep Pamela by his side he will claim she is his fiancé. Pamela doesn't like it but she can say nothing.

This was a fast moving, well-written tale. The first part of the story that took place in the Highlands was fun and I liked the back-story of Conner's early life. Medeiros did a great job of showing us why he was truly a hero worth loving. The rest of the story (except the ending that brings us back to the Highlands) takes place in the duke's home at Warrick. The developing relationships and chemistry between Pamela and Conner were well done. There are some great secondary characters, including the duke and his nephew. Medeiros does a bit of "head hopping" in some scenes but it did not detract from the story.

Buy on Amazon

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Julia Quinn’s THE DUKE AND I – A Bad Childhood Leads to a Reluctant Groom

Set in 1813, this is the story of Daphne Bridgerton, daughter of the Viscount Bridgerton, deceased, and sister of the Bridgerton brothers. Daphne is considered by all a friend but not a prospective wife to any of the ton’s suitors. That is, until she and Simon, the Duke of Hastings concoct a plan to pretend he is courting her. Suddenly, she is surrounded by swains. Daphne wants to marry and the duke does not. But she still falls in love with him and then they are forced to wed.

Unfortunately, Simon’s horrible father and terrible youth make him never want to have children of his own and so he and Daphne come to blows.

The Bridgerton family walks away with the prize in this story, which presumably is the set up for the series. Anthony, Daphne’s older brother, and Violet, her mother, in particular were winning characters. Daphne did tend to overshadow the duke a bit. Quinn made clever use of a society rag sheet’s ramblings… Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, which was charming.

It was a fun Regency tale and I’m sure the series will bring more of the same. I think Anthony’s story, which is book 2, would be one to read.
Buy on Amazon

The Bridgerton Series:

The Duke and I
The Viscount Who Loved Me
An Offer From a Gentleman
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
To Sir Phillip With Love
When He Was Wicked
It’s In His Kiss
On the Way to the Wedding

Monday, September 19, 2016

Introductions in the Regency Era...

My guest today is none other than the woman behind the Regency Researcher, Nancy Mayer.  

Nancy is considered a person of great value to all authors of Regency era romances, as she knows a lot about that period in England’s history and shares much with the members of the Beau Monde chapter of the Romance Writers of America

Nancy’s education is in English and she has been a teacher of both grade school and college courses. But we know her as a teacher of courses on the Regency era for Romance Writers of America.

She says her interest in researching the Regency era grew out of her first attempts at writing Regency romances when she discovered she didn’t have a clue about titles or the real history of those times.

She is a member of the Beau Monde and Hearts through History chapters of RWA, the Jane Austen Society of North America and the Byron Society. She was the regional coordinator, organizer and leader of the Atlanta chapter of the Jane Austen Society for fourteen years.

In recognition of her many contributions, she had been awarded the Lady of the Realm Award of the Beau Monde chapter of RWA. Nancy says she spends most of her time studying the history and laws of the time period, especially the laws concerning marriage.

At my invitation, Nancy is sharing with us today the proper way to conduct introductions in the Regency era. 

Introductions in the Regency Era by Nancy Meyer

The people of Regency England were much more formal about introductions than we are. First names of men were not usually mentioned. Only his wife, mother, and sisters needed to know the first name of a peer. Boys were called by surnames or titles at school. Boys with titles and courtesy titles were called these from birth. One used full names and titles when introducing people. Even long time friends might not know a school friend’s first name.

The rules were few                      

As a general consideration, these rules apply to the upper gentry and higher ranks. They do not apply when dealing with innkeepers, sales men, shopkeepers and laborers. In such cases one informs the one of superior rank of the identity of the other but no one is asked permission to present anyone.           
Royalty had its own protocol and rules. Usually one didn't speak to a royal without permission and introductions were made formally at Levees and Drawing rooms. 

 But generally…

You would ask a lady if you might introduce a man to her. She could say “no.” So one needs to have an idea if the two people will be acceptable to an introduction.

One asked a superior in age or rank if one could present a person of lower rank. 
A lady didn't usually shake hands but, if she did, she was the one to initiate a handshake.

Curtseys and bows

The depth of the curtsey and the bow were different for different ranks of superiors One had to get down on one's knee before royalty, but others usually didn't require a curtsey or bow of such depth.

Children and Ladies

Children of the aristocracy were trained in such things from birth. Children curtseyed and bowed to all adults of their social standing and above and those placed in authority over them.

They were usually told “Stephen and Sarah, make your bows to the Earl and Countess of Whatever”. The guests should know what titles the children bore and there would be no need for further information.

Gentlemen bowed to equals and superiors and to all ladies. They didn't kiss the hand of any except royalty or a mother, grandmother, wife, or mistress. A young bachelor might kiss the hand of an older dowager in a flirtatious way, but to do so with a younger woman would be taken as evidence of a forthcoming proposal. [Regan's note: Regency romances often deviate from this rule for the sake of the story...]

Ladies married to peers curtseyed to high church officials like bishops and archbishops and to royalty. Peeresses did not curtsey to each other.

A very young bride of a baron might curtsey to dowager duchess as a salute to age but wives of peers didn't usually curtsey to each other. An inclination of the head and handshakes, smiles and other methods of greeting each other were used.

Outside of the nobility, women curtseyed to those of higher rank.

Using Full Titles
When people were introduced, it was considered polite to use their full titles. If the two people were at a place where they could be expected to see each other fairly often something about the person should be added. 

To illustrate:
“Grandmother, may I present the Marquess of Boston? He is engaged to Lady Anne Bolton.”

"Lord Boston, the Dowager Countess of Seeham." (This is needed because the marquess couldn't call the woman "grandmother".)

"Lady Nelson, may I present Mr. Gower? He is the son of Lord Crabapple."

When there is great disparity in rank or age, the younger or one with lower rank is presented to the one of greater age and higher status. So while the general rule is that one presents gentlemen to ladies, sometimes a young lady might be presented to an aged duke.

Dukes and Duchesses

All the peers and their wives under the rank of duke and duchess can be spoken to or about as Lord or Lady [title]. A duke and duchess are never ever addressed as Lord or Lady. Most formally a duke is “The Most Noble Duke of Somewhere”, addressed as “Your Grace”.

Archbishops of Canterbury and York

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are also addressed as “Your Grace”. Archbishops are not peers, but take the precedence of dukes after the royal family. He is “His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

 The wife of an archbishop goes by his secular title, for example:

             “Your Grace, Mrs. Manners, may I present Captain Lord Stoval of the Royal Navy?”

Then one can say, “Lord Stovall is my brother in law.”
“Stovall, His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife, Mrs. Manners.”
            (This last can be omitted, of course, if you have told your brother in law that you would introduce him to the archbishop.)

Baronets and Knights

Baronets and Knights are both “Sir First Name”, and examples: Sir Thomas Bertram, Sir William Lucas. Their wives are Lady Bertram and Lady Lucas.

             “Sir Thomas, Lady Bertram, may I present Henry Crawford?”
But, if the wife has her own title, she is introduced by it: “Lady Catherine, Sir Louis, may I present Mr. Collins as a worthy incumbent for the living at…?”

Generally clergymen are introduced by their names, such as “Mr. Austen” or “Mr. Smith”. One can add, “He is rector of the parish”, or “rector of St. Anne's”, or “the local vicar”. One does not addresses him as “reverend”.

Naval and Military Officers

Naval and military officers are usually introduced by their rank. If a man also has a peerage or courtesy title, his naval or military title comes first: “Colonel, the Earl of Someplace” or “Major Lord Blackwell. 

In Pride and Prejudice, Wickham was introduced to Mrs. Bennet and her daughters:

            “Mrs. Bennet, may I present Mr. Wickham who is here with the —shire Militia. "

Mrs. Bennet would have the choice of introducing her daughters or not.

            “Mr. Wickham, my daughters, Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth, Miss Mary, Miss Kitty, and Miss Lydia.”

If she didn't want her daughters to be known to him she would give a cool nod, recognizing his presence but no more. If she wished to give him the “cut direct” she could either tell the one making the introduction "No" or simply pretend nothing had been said and walk away. That would be a drastic response and embarrassing for all.        
Making mistakes…

How one introduced someone could show one's own lack of breeding or one's less than friendly opinion of a person. A curt repeat of the names or an exquisitely polite exchange or more fulsome one. We all remember the scene from Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Collins rudely introduced himself.

While gentlemen usually introduced themselves to each other, it was usually the privilege of the superior in rank to initiate the introduction. In Pride and Prejudice, it was the privilege of Mr. Darcy to introduce himself to Mr. Collins and not for Collins to introduce himself. Mr. Collins stepped right into it, which horrified Elizabeth.

Third persons introducing…

By introducing two people to each other, one stands surety for each as being an honorable person. In the situation with Mr. Collins, a third person might have introduced them:

“Mr. Darcy, may I make Mr. Collins known to you? He has the living at Rosings.”

Also in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy’s good friend introduces Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Darcy:
     “May I present my friend, Mr. Darcy?”

At a ball, the host or hostess usually would not ask the lady's permission to introduce a person as suitable for a partner. A man couldn’t ask a lady to dance at a public assembly if they had not been introduced, but these rules were not so strict at private balls where the roof is supposed to be an introduction.

When a man and a woman are guests in a house and find themselves in company with each other without a third person to introduce them, they could introduce themselves. However, they could also have a conversation without exchanging names. If they do give names, the man gives his title or surname. He might add that he was the Vicar at St. Stephen’s Church, or a cousin of their host. If he is in the army or navy he should give his rank.
Introductions were generally made under a roof and not on the street or in a garden. If a man and lady met another man and lady on the street they would not stop to exchange identities. And finally, a well-bred young unmarried lady shouldn’t be walking down the street with a man not her father or brother.

Feel free to ask Nancy a question about introductions in the comments!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: Cheryl Bolen’s WITH HIS LADY’S ASSISTANCE – A Fun Regency Romp!

Set in 1813, this tells the story of Captain Jack Dryden of the 14th Light Dragoons, who is drafted by the Prince Regent to find the person trying to kill him. Jack, it seems, has some experience as a spy.

To enable Jack mingle among the aristocrats so he can identify the Prince’s enemies, the Prince solicits the aid of Lady Daphne Chalmers, the oldest of Lord Sidwell’s daughters. Daphne is well connected and intelligent, but no beauty. Jack finds her very clever.

Together they embark on an investigation that leads them down some rabbit trails and in the process, Jack decides there is more to Lady Daphne than her mind, which ain’t so bad either. And, there is one person who wants Jack dead, which makes for some exciting scenes toward the end.

I loved their banter and the look at Regency Society Bolen so accurately paints. There are lots of historic figures populating the story and a candid look at the infidelity that was rife in the Regency among the higher classes.

It’s a well-researched, thoroughly enjoyable, sweet read.

Buy on Amazon

The Regent Mysteries Series:

With His Lady’s Assistance
A Most Discreet Inquiry
The Theft Before Christmas
An Egyptian Affair