Regency Heroes Redux

Susanna’s blog post on Friday got me thinking about heroes. I, too, look for images of my heroes and I think the idea of looking at videos of actors is brilliant.

In 2006 I wrote a blog about Regency Heroes, where I pretty much gushed about my favorite type of Regency hero, the soldier, but there are other types which recur in Regency Historicals (including some I’ve written!)

Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress by Diane GastonSoldiers.These are my favorite Regency heroes, who, of course, fought in the Napoleonic War, especially at Waterloo. They have strength and bravery. They also have damage from the war, some way the war affected them emotionally, like we talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in soldiers today. Why should our soldiers be much different than Napoleonic War soldiers?

Dukes. Dukes in Regency romance, to me, are the “Harlequin Presents” heroes of their time. Harlequin Presents heroes are powerful, wealthy, commanding and seductive. They are used to having their own way–the quintessential Alpha hero. I haven’t written about a duke…yet.

Rakes. We must not forget rakes, those bad boys who have disreputable reputations, but who also have a keen sense of integrity that is all their own. These heroes are fun to write about, which I certainly did in my RITA winner, A Reputable Rake.

Corinthians. A Corinthian is a sporting man. In Regency romance he is the one who is a member of the Four-in-Hand club, meaning he drives his own carriages. He also might ride to hounds, spar with Gentleman Jack in the man’s boxing academy, or fence at Angelo’s fencing club in the same building.

Impoverished Lords. I didn’t know any other way to describe this hero. He has a title or is heir to one or is the younger son, and he lacks money to support his estate or to simply support himself or, in the case of The Mysterious Miss M, support the woman he loves. For the sake of people this hero cares about, he must contemplate stooping to desperate measures.

Of course, we often mix up our heroes, having impoverished lords who were soldiers, or dukes who are Corinthians. That’s part of the fun of it.

Can you think of any other Regency hero types? Which is your favorite?

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

London Squares

Today’s visit to my library involves a new acquisition. Historic Streets and Squares by Melanie Backe-Hansen. This lovely and detailed book covers a variety of streets and square ranging from Scotland and the North of England, through the Midlands and South-West England, East Anglia, and Southern England to Wales and Ireland, with special attention paid to London. Today, I’d like to look at two of the London squares that will probably be familiar to most of you. The quotes and most of the illustrations are from the book.

Bedford Square from Horwood's 1799 Map
Bedford Square from Horwood’s 1799 Map

Bedford Square is unique as it was not only planned as in imposed uniform square, but it is the only Georgian square to survive in almost its complete original form. Built in 1775-83, it was the inspiration of John Russell, the 4th Duke of Bedford, who wanted to replicate the style and imposing design of the  Circus in Bath. The initial plans for a circus, evolved into a square.

Doorway - 25 Bedford Square
Doorway – 25 Bedford Square

Bedford Square is commonly accepted as the most complete and best preserved of all London’s Georgian Squares and was one of the first squares in London to impose an architectural uniformity around a central garden square. Bedford Square is architecturally significant because followed directly after the 1774 London Buildings Act, which regulated building construction. Eached terraced row appears as a complete palace-fronted facade, with stucco pedimented centres.

Hanover Square 1754
Hanover Square 1754

Moving along, let’s take a quick look at Hanover Square. Hanover Square and the accompanying George Street date back to 1713 when Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarborough, signed a conveyance of 2 acres of freehold land.  The land originally belonged to Lord Harley, who married Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, heiress of John, Duke of Newcastle, who inherited the Marylebone estate. (Got that?) The lease with Scarborough covered an area south from today’s Oxford Street, encompassing the central square, along with two roads leading into from the east, two from the west, and one on the north, and the wider George Street on the south. Hanover Square was the first square in Mayfair, laid out from 1717 to 1719. Sir John Summerson called it the foundation stone of Mayfair.”

St. George's Hanover Square
St. George’s Hanover Square

Although not technically within Hanover Square, St. George’s Church (of Regency Romance renown) was a vital part of the layout. It was built by John James as part of the “Commission for Building Fifty New Churches,” which was put in place by Act of Parliament in 1711 during the reign of Queen Anne.  It was completed in 1724. St. George’s Hanover Square was the main parish church for Mayfair, so it was often the location for high-society weddings, a well as a few notorious ones.

I do recommend the book for lots of great detail on a quite a few historical squares. It’s a nice way to visit the past and fire the imagination.  Do you have some favorite ways to do that?

Posted in Regency, Research | 2 Comments

A little Friday fun

Susanna here, and so swamped under my current writing deadline for my 2015 historical romance, My Lady Defiant, that I don’t have time for any deep thoughts on the state of the romance genre or erudite discussion of my latest research discoveries. So instead I thought I’d share with you some of the inspiration that’s helping me see and hear my hero…

Everyone, say hello to Tom Hiddleston.

I could listen to him recite Shakespeare while selling cars all day:

And if that’s not enough for you, here he’s being Shakespearean on a horse:

And here he is teaching Cookie Monster about delayed gratification:

Frankly, this is the most I’ve ever focused on the actor I’d want to cast in the film adaptation of my book. I usually come up with an actor, an athlete or two who has the look I have in mind–I’m not that visual a thinker, so having an actual person to model a character upon helps me describe him or her better. Plus, when I’m filling out my cover art information sheet, I always like to include an image or two. If I describe Henry, my current hero, an elegantly handsome, leanly athletic, archetypically English blue-eyed dark blond, also linking to a nice Tom Hiddleston image shows my cover artist what all those adjectives and adverbs mean to me.

Yet this is the first time I’ve made a habit of watching an actor’s videos to help get me in the mood to write. Part of that is because the man in question is pretty yummy. Also, he has the right accent for the job, which couldn’t be said of Nathan Fillion (Will in The Sergeant’s Lady looks a lot like Firefly-era Fillion) or Cam Newton (my model for Elijah in A Dream Defiant’s brand of tall, dark, and athletic).

But I recently realized the main reason watching videos has helped me write Henry is that more than any other hero I’ve written, he spends his life playing a part. He was born with fairly severe dyslexia into a high-achieving, academically gifted family. So his life up until his book starts has been defined by his shame over what he considers his failure and stupidity, and he’s made an art form of avoiding any situation in which he might reasonably be expected to read aloud, write, or keep accounts. And then over the course of the book, he has to improvise even more than normal as he and the heroine spend most of the story running for their lives, pretending to be various people they aren’t to throw their pursuers off the scent. So imagining how a good actor might play my character helps me visualize how he plays himself, since he so rarely lets anyone see his whole truth.

What about you? Do you ever visualize actors or actresses playing the characters when you write or read?

Posted in Frivolity, Writing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Apologies from Carolyn

Vicente_López_y_Portaña_-_Woman's_Head_-_Google_Art_ProjectCarolyn is prostrate with sorrow that the wonderful blog post she fully intended to write for today entirely slipped her mind!!

She promises to do better next week and we’ll all hold her to it, right????

What matter of importance have you forgotten lately? (The number of things I’m in danger of forgetting became so long I had to create a To-Do list)


Posted in Anything but writing | 4 Comments

Lady In Red

1780s habit2
Habit, c. 1780s

This week’s post fulfills my promise to showcase red gowns. There are numerous extant examples, ranging from habits (red is a very common habit color, and the most common color for cloaks from what I can tell) to day dresses, to fancy evening gowns. They come in every fabrication possible (wool, silk, netting, linen, cotton) and appear across classes (you see plenty of reds in the scraps preserved in Threads of Feeling). Frankly, Pinterest is overrun with examples.

open robe 1790
Open Robe, c. 1790
1795 round kci
Round Gown, c. 1795
red net dress
Shawl Gown, c. 1800
Printed Gown, c. 1800-1805
1808 example front
Red Dot Apron Gown, c. 1800-1810
net dress 1811
Red Net Gown, c. 1810-1815
1820 1822 red muslin evening dress
Red Muslin Evening Gown, c. 1820


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Taxes and Wellington Winnner

Leaving_off_powder,_-_or_-_a_frugal_family_saving_the_guinea_by_James_GillrayI’ll bet many of you are doing your income tax returns right now. It is that lovely time of year. Income taxes. A topic that elicits strong emotion and, when filling out the returns, anxiety.

Did you know they had income taxes in the Regency?

Income taxes were first implemented in Great Britain in 1798 by William Pitt the Younger in order to pay for the impending war with Napoleon. It was a graduated income tax starting at 2 old pence in the pound for incomes over 60 pounds per year and rising to 2 shillings in the pound on incomes over 200 pounds.

This income tax was abolished in 1802 after the Peace of Amiens, but a new one was voted in in 1803, again because of the Napoleonic War. It wasn’t called an income tax, though. It was called a ‘contribution of the profits arising from property, professions, trades and offices,’ but, basically, it was an income tax.

Like our taxes, it even had different ‘Schedules.’ Schedule A was a tax on income from UK land. Schedule B, from commercial occupation of land. Schedule c was a tax on income from public securities. Schedule D was tax on trading income, income from professions and vocations, interest, overseas income and casual income (whatever that is!). Lastly, Schedule E was a tax on employment income.

The maximum tax rate seems minuscule to ours in the present day. It was only 5%, but, like all income taxes, it was very unpopular. After its repeal in 1816 Parliament ordered the destruction of all documents connected with it. This was all for show, though. The King’s Remembrancer made duplicates. 

Never fear, though. During that time there were many other taxes for the citizenry to complain about. Taxes on windows and glass, on servants, on carriages, on owning a dog (the more dogs, the more tax). And, of course, the tax on hair powder, which did its part in making that practice go out of fashion.

image1Winner of the Wellington (abridged) biography by Elizabeth Longford, in honor of The Duke of Wellington Tour, is……Louisa Cornell!! Louisa, I’ll be in touch by email.

So, who is having fun with taxes today?????

(By the way, I was quoted in a lovely blog post about Harlequin Historical on the USA Today Happy Ever After Blog!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Ladies of Ill-Repute

The Milk Sop - Thomas Rowlandson
The Milk Sop – Thomas Rowlandson

Moving along in my library, we leave last week’s Toilet of Flora, and move to my Georgian sex shelf.  On this shelf, we find the entertaining (and yet distressing) Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies.  Like last week’s book, this is also now available to you in Google Books.  The one I’ve linked to is for 1789, but you’ll be able to extrapolate to a later date.

Harris’s list is sort of a Zagat’s guide to ladies of the evening. It was not, however, written by Jack Harris, but by one Sam Derrick, based on Jack Harris’s list. Mr Derrick apparently reached some sort of agreement for use of the list, and provided comprehensive descriptions of Mr. Harris’s ladies and where to find them.  Shall we look at a few?

Picking Cheerful - Thomas Rowlandson
Picking Cheerful – Thomas Rowlandson

The book opens with Miss D-vis, No. 22 Upper Newman-street. This is a fine lively girl, about twenty-one, rather above the middle size, genteelly made; has several good friends, but is much attached to young Br-om, the lottery-office-keeper, who is now in prison, where she often visits him; is ever obliging, and seldom out of humour, understands a great deal of her business, and never fails to please.

In No. 82, Queen Ann-street, we find Mrs. D-nby, who has found a neat way to make a little additional money by wearing her clients out and renting them a room for the night.

A fine plump lady, twenty-four years old, rather short with sandy colour hair, fine blue eyes, rather of an amorous constitution; when in the arms of an equally lewd partner, she never wishes to fall in the arms of sleep, whilst Venus holds her court, Morpheus is kicked out of doors, as she keeps the house, any gentleman may have a night’s lodging for one pound one shilling, and half the money if he can do the business well.

Mrs. D-l-v-t of No. 46 Hanover-street is apparently on hiatus but is thinking about returning to the business:

And Inclined Beauty - Thomas Rowlandson
And Inclined Beauty – Thomas Rowlandson

This lady is about thirty, she was bread a milliner, and married very young an attorney’s clerk, but as his income was not sufficient to support her in the manner she wished to live, she listened to the addresses of an American gentleman who made her a handsome allowance whilst he remained in England, and took some pains to persuade her to accompany him in his present visit to that quarter of the world, but she preferred old to new England. She is at present a housekeeper, but soon intends to quit her situation and retire to snug lodging as she has experimentally found that the frail sisterhood are vary bad pay mistresses.

We further learn that she has kept her looks and wields a “birchen rod” with dexterity (in case your taste runs in that direction). We also learn that she never never condescends to grant her favors for less than a guinea.

Let’s finish with Sally Cummins, Charles Street, Westminster who is a bluish eyed comely lass, but too much indebted to art for her complexion. She talks French, and sings agreeably, and in her cups is very religious, when you should find her to be a most bigoted Papist.  She sounds like fun, doesn’t she?

So, I leave you with another book to look into. Mr. Derrick has quite a way with words and one doesn’t know how much of this to take at face value. We do know, however, that it was based on Mr. Harris’s list, which was quite probably what it purported to be.  I also leave you with some illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson, who seems best fitted for this topic.


Posted in Frivolity, Research | 7 Comments

Gail’s Winners and Lord Langdon’s Kiss Giveaway!

First of all, Gail would like to thank everyone who participated in the fantastic discussion of epilogues last week. She also asked me to announce the winners of her giveaway. Congratulations to Beth Elliott and Linda, who have won Kindle or Nook versions of The Captain’s Dilemma, the Regency romance which Gail has recently reissued with a lovely new epilogue.

This week I’m celebrating the reissue of my Regency, Lord Langdon’s Kiss, which unlike The Captain’s Dilemma, needed a lot more work than the addition of an epilogue. Lord Langdon’s Kiss was my first book, and although I’m proud that it sold, I’ve learned a lot in the fifteen years that have passed since I wrote it. In this version, I tackled an issue I’d shied away from the first time around and found that it helped me torture the hero a little more. That’s always a good thing. I also pruned out a lot of redundant introspection, cutting about 17,000 words. Maybe I can make a novella out of the chopped bits.

llkAnyway, I feel very happy about the revisions and I’m pretty sure I kept everything that people enjoyed about it the first time around. I’m hoping my favorite review is still true.

Lord Langdon’s Kiss is a fine Regency romp that will satisfy lovers of the genre like ice-cold lemonade on a hot afternoon. This is what Regency romance is all about.” (Four hearts) — The Romance Reader

I think the digital revolution has been a wonderful boon to the traditional Regency genre. It’s helped make many previously published Regencies available to new readers, and also opened up a market for new traditional Regencies, filling the void left when the major publishers ended their Regency lines.

Have you discovered or rediscovered any good traditional Regencies lately? Please share, for the chance to win a copy of Lord Langdon’s Kiss on Nook or Kindle.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Giveaways, Risky Book Talk, Winners announced | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

A Few Of Your Favorite Things?

In the comments, if you don’t mind, answer one or more of these questions:

1.  Name a few of your favorite historical romances. Books you’d want with you if you were stuck some place for a long time.

2. Are there types of stories you miss?

3. Duke. Pro or Con?

I’ll answer to get things started.

Mary Balogh’s A Summer To Remember is one of my all time faves. I loved Amanda Quick’s Ravished. I loved Karen Robard’s Loving Julia.

I miss the the big honking saga. I wish there were more Gothics. Once, I read a Regency-Set vampire book and I totally hated it. But now I wouldn’t mind. I can’t explain that.


But that doesn’t mean I’m not open to non-dukes.

Posted in Frivolity, Reading | Tagged , , | 24 Comments