History

#Review Rebel With A Cause; The Life and Times of Sarah Benett, 1850-1924, Social Reformer and Suffragette by Iain Gordan #Suffragette #100years #SarahBenett #RebelWithACause @penswordbook

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One hundred years on, it is hard to imagine the violent disruption caused by the suffragette movement. After a century of peaceful protest had brought no progress a small group of determined women took matters into their own hands and turned to direct action. By virtue of their actions the cry ‘Votes for Women’ was heard throughout the country.

One of these unlikely ‘vandals’ was a mature middle-class spinster called Sarah Bennet. After leaving home on the death of her parents, she spent a decade attempting to improve deprived workers’ conditions in the Staffordshire potteries. Realising that nothing could be achieved until women obtained the vote and could compete with men on equal terms, she moved to London aged 55. Disowned by her family she joined Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political union and became an active suffragette. Ahead of her lay verbal and physical abuse, public contempt, imprisonment and hunger strikes.

Rebel with a Cause is her extraordinary story told largely in her own words.

My View

When I got offered the chance to review this book, I literally snatched it up, I knew that this would be right up my street and I was right. This is an extraordinary book, it is told mostly through Sarah’s words from her letters, diaries and documents that have survived and it tells the story of a truly inspiring and remarkable woman who gave everything for the suffrage movement.

This book tells the story of Sarah Benett, who was one of the most unlikely militant suffragette’s, before joined the cause she was working tirelessly in the Staffordshire Potteries trying to improve the workers conditions, trying to get them the rights they deserved but unfortunately unless women had equality and more immortal the right to vote her actions came to naught. Which is when after attending a meeting and hearing Flora McKinnon Drummon – or otherwise known as ‘The General’ speak Sarah knew then that this was her calling, this was what was needed. At the age of 57, Sarah Benett became a Suffragette.

I have read so much about the Suffragette’s and what they went through to be able to put that cross on the ballot paper, but this has brought a whole new understanding and even further respect to those brave and wonderful women who gave their all for something that many women today do take for granted and we truly are indebted to them.

Iain Gordan has written an informative, brilliantly researched and compelling book that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in the subject. His writing is powerful, thoughtful and sympathetic to the subject as well as illuminating and engaging especially with the addition of the brilliant illustrations and photographs that really work to bring the time and this woman to life.

This is definite must read, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie at Pen and Sword.

A Rebel With A cause is available from both Pen and Sword and Amazon.

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#Review 1066; What Fates Impose by GK Holloway (@GlynnHolloway) #Historical #Medieval #BattleOfHastings #1066WhatFatesImpose

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England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies who will stop at nothing to gain power.

As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold. Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

My View

My goodness, this is absolutely bloody brilliant! I am a massive history fan and this book tick’s all the boxes, history in abundance, a bit of a romance, character’s that are not only real from history but also are immensely fascinating. I am not one to rate a book as I am more for sharing my opinions, but this has to be a definite 10/10, It really is mind-blowingly good!

This book centres around Harold Godwinson, before reading this I off course knew of his eventual fate and I knew the history surrounding 1066 and onwards once William the Conqueror gained the crown, but I knew very little about Harold himself and his family, and the battles for power that resulted in him becoming King. Reading this has completely opened my eyes to the era and it’s vast history, this is a magnificent book from an author who obviously has a real passion and understanding of the era and of these historic figures, which makes this already great book even more enjoyable to read.

As the title states this is about the what happened during 1066, but for those that aren’t as fully clued up in the story of Harold Godwinson apart from his unfortunate end, the story starts in 1045 when the country are facing a bitter struggle for power as King Edward; the Confessor who is lacking the ability and the inclination to produce his much needed heir, the whole country and those abroad are preparing themselves for the crisis of succession that we all know is coming, everyone from the nobles to the clergymen and to the foreign rulers are all watching, waiting and plotting.

Edward is getting more and more paranoid, due mainly to the manipulative Norman; Robert du Jumeries, he is seeing threats to his throne at every corner, the main perpetrator which Edward is becoming increasingly wary of is his father-in-law; the Earl Godwin of Wessex and his family. At one point he brought charges against them making them flee, which also included his own Queen who ended up in exile. As the story winds itself towards 1066 we meet a whole host of historic figures, some of which I hadn’t really know but after this I am immensely interested in learning more about them.

The political and power struggles all for the crown is deadly as well as hugely fascinating, Mr Holloway has taken a time in history, an event and figures and brought them all to life. He has given Edward, Harold, his family and William a voice, a face and he has made them real in a way they weren’t before. I think what really stuck with me while reading it, was that it gave me a whole new perspective on Harold. Instead of just thinking of Harold and his ending, you understand Harold as the man before he was King. I think he was a brilliant man, intelligent, savvy, protective, loyal and very much in love with his wife – which was in all accounts a love match. So the reader learns about him instead of focussing on what we all know is coming and that for me was an integral part of the whole story, knowing the ending didn’t over shadow the story as it was so brilliantly written.

This book is a wonder, the writing is solid and rich in immersive historic detail but it’s not thrust into your face your not drowning in history that you miss the story. It is an accurate, engaging, thrilling, compelling, full bodied book which has been written with the finesse only an exceedingly talented author can write with. 1066; What Fates Impose is an impressive book that will be taking very pride of place on my bookshelf and one that I will be pulling off to re-read again and again.

This is the first I have read by GK Holloway and it has made an impression on me, I will most defiantly be reading more from this brilliant author.

This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you Glynn.

1066; What Fates Impose can be purchased from Amazon.

#Review – Heroic Measures by Jo-Ann Powers (@CeriseDeLand) #WW1 #Romance #Historic #HeroicMeasures @WildRosePress

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Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.

For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.

Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.

But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

My View

I knew when I came to read this book that it would be an emotional ride as I walked in the footsteps of such heroic and supremely inspiring women, but I was over-awed and whilst reading this book. I felt in so much awe of Gwen and her fellow nurses who did the most incredible job, these women were vital for the war effort. Jo-Ann Power has gone above and beyond with telling these extraordinary women’s stories, the depth of research is incredible at times it was like actually being standing right beside them. It painted an emotionally raw and brutally real picture of what these women went through.

I think what really struck me most when reading this book was just how little I knew about front line nurses from America. I think that being from the UK, we take all our meticulous record keeping via the archives and the War Graves Commission for granted and we tend to be a little ignorant to the fact that the Great War affected not just us on Europe and the common wealth but those from America also feature heavily, we just don’t really know about them. Which is why this book is so damn important, It is exactly what we need in this world and it is one of those rare books that will stand the test of time,

The story really follows one young nurse; Gwen – who is a hugely likeable character, a woman after my own heart she has spirit, determination, she has seen her fair share of troubles before she even goes into nursing, but those issues have made her the strong, reliable and passionate woman I found her to be. We first see her in nursing college where her and her close knit group of friends have fun between studies, once graduated they now face the real world. Unfortunately this world is now at war and Gwen soon finds herself facing all the horrors of the front, as she is sent to battled destroyed France.

This is definitely the most heart breaking part of the book what Gwen and her friends face day in day out is harrowing. The picture of that dark and soul destroying place is vivid and real, Ms Power has done an absolutely incredible job at portraying the scene with the utmost realism and respect and this is where the authors research and brilliant writing comes in to it’s own, she captures your attention through out the book and I can guarantee that there is times you will get a lump in your throat ad tears in your eyes.

Heroic Measures is an emotionally powerful read that will leave the reader in absolute stunned silence, it’s true, poignant and highlights an aspect of women’s history that I think a lot of us may have forgotten.

Very highly recommended one of the best books I have read and one that everyone should read.

This was a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Heroic Measures can be purchased at Amazon.

#Review – Crikey! How Did That Happen? The (Refreshingly Unauthorised) Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG by Ian Strathcarron (@ianstrathcarron) #Blogtour via @Bookollective

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I have the great pleasure to be the next stop on this great Blog Tour and to share my review of Crikey! How Did That Happen?

Up until now we have only known Bertie Wooster in his mid-twenties; this is his first whole life biography, told in ten short stories at seven year intervals. Thus we first meet Bertie aged seven, in 1907, at Malvern House prep school, then follow him to Eton aged fourteen and Oxford at twenty-one. We meet Jeeves when Bertie is twenty-eight and then they go their separate ways: Jeeves to the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and Bertie to the French Riviera at its most glamorous, causing havoc with Somerset Maugham and Alfred Hitchcock, before being accidentally captured by the Italian fascists and spending Christmas Day 1942 with Mussolini.

After WWII Bertie resumes his career in musical cabaret, headlining the Royal Variety Performance in 1949, before being pitched into the machinations of Hollywood at its prime in 1956. In 1963, Bertie, caught up in the zeitgeist, finds himself in the Himalayas with the Maharishi and then we say goodbye to a very much alive Sir Bertram in 1970 in Mustique, where he becomes involved in a murder mystery with many of the leading tax exiles and celebrities of the day

My View

I will admit that when I first got asked to be apart of this blog tour I did think very carefully about it before I said yes, this isn’t usually the type of book that I would usually pick up and I will admit that before reading this I didn’t really know who Bertram Wooster was. But I am always willing to give a book chance, after all a change is as good as a rest, right? I came into this book with completely open eyes, not knowing what to expect, and you know what I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed reading it.

I first thought that this would a story that spanned over the decades, which it isn’t as such, this is complied of ten short stories that span between 1907 and 1970 where we see Bertram grow from a likeable young lad to the best valet and then on to being a married man. Each part of Bertram’s life enjoyable and has a certain vividness that captures the readers attention and imagination. For those like myself who was a tad ignorant of who Bertram Wooster was this will read as an entertaining story of a young man who went from being an orphan to entering a world of the rich and famous.

There is a great deal of seriousness to it, but that is expertly lightened by the authors wit and skilful play with words that keeps the reader turning the pages. Crikey! How Did That Happen? Is a fun, refreshingly original book that will take you on an adventure as well as having you laugh out loud while reading – yes, that did happen and I did receive some odd looks from the family. If you are like I was and unsure if this book is for you, then I say give it a go it will surprise you.

This is a surprising fun and enjoyable book, very recommended!

This was a ARC copy via the Ladies from Bookollective as apart of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Review : A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews

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What did a Victorian lady wear for a walk in the park? How did she style her hair for an evening at the theatre? And what products might she have used to soothe a sunburn or treat an unsightly blemish? Mimi Matthews answers these questions and more as she takes readers on a decade-by-decade journey through Victorian fashion and beauty history.

Women’s clothing changed dramatically during the course of the Victorian era. Necklines rose, waistlines dropped, and Gothic severity gave way to flounces, frills, and an abundance of trimmings. Sleeves ballooned up and skirts billowed out. The crinoline morphed into the bustle and steam-moulded corsets cinched women’s waists ever tighter.

As fashion was evolving, so too were trends in ladies’ hair care and cosmetics. An era which began by prizing natural, barefaced beauty ended with women purchasing lip and cheek rouge, false hairpieces and pomades, and fashionable perfumes made with expensive spice oils and animal essences.

Using research from nineteenth century beauty books, fashion magazines, and lady’s journals, Mimi Matthews brings the intricacies of a Victorian lady’s toilette into modern day focus. In the process, she gives readers a glimpse of the social issues that influenced women’s clothing and the societal outrage that was an all too frequent response to those bold females who used fashion and beauty as a means of asserting their individuality and independence.

My View

Well this is wonderful, I am a huge fan of Mimi Matthews work, whether that be her beautifully poignant romances, or her well researched factual pieces, like this. I will admit that as soon as I heard about A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, I was fascinated by it and I was jumping about for pure joy when I got the opportunity to review it.

This is the perfect reference book for those interested in Victorian fashion and beauty, set out in different sections throughout the book it covers every aspect of what a Victorian lady would have worn and her beauty regime from 1840 to 1890. Ms Matthews covered everything you would ever want to know about, from under-garments, day/evening wear and shoes to cleansing soaps, hair removal and hair styling.

Every aspect of a ladies, day when they change, and why is written in clear and precise detail from which piece of clothing they would wear for what occasion, who would be able to wear what. Ms Matthews has even covered the fabric and colours that would have been used. And I do have to say that, I love how very gothic the Victorian era was in their clothing.

My favourite part is the Victorian Beauty chapter, I always knew that their cosmetics were at times perilous for the health. Some of what they used to do, to keep that perfect porcelain complexion is mind blowing plus quite bizarre and worry-some that Victorian ladies were so obsessed that they were happy to put quick lime on their faces and even use electricity to combat some normal issues.

This is such a great read, brilliantly researched and fabulously engrossing. I love how much detail Ms Matthews has added to each part, her passion for the era is obvious and another thing I love is how she has sprinkled the whole book with passages and extracts from genuine articles and periodicals from the time.

I cannot recommend this enough, for anyone who loves their fashion history and Victorian’s then this is a must read.

This was a ARC/Complimentary copy from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty is available now and can be purchased from Amazon.

Review – Sexuality And It’s Impact on History; The British Stripped Bare

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Sexuality and it’s Impact on History; The British Stripped Bare

by

Hunter S. Jones, Emma Haddon-Wright, Jessica Cale, Judith Arnopp, Gayle Hulme, Dr. Beth Lynne and Annie Whitehead

Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as eight authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share. It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses.

Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history. Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots the Regency, and down to the prudish Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

My View

As soon as I got offered the chance to review this book, I jumped at it. True it’s not my usual reading material but I was intrigued by the premise of this book, it caught my attention. I do like how very easy to read this is, I have read history compilations before that I found very difficult to connect with and hard to follow, due to the amount of scholarly wording. But this is beautifully written so that everyone can enjoy it. You don’t have to be a scholar or someone with a hundred A level’s in history to be able to enjoy it, I can guarantee that if you enjoy learning about less known aspects of history then this is the book. I am so pleased that I got the chance to read it, it is way beyond my expectations.

This is a fascinating compilation of stories written by seven incredible female writers who know their craft well, they come together to tell seven stories of how sexuality and the varied custom’s over eras has influenced British History. With a look into all aspects of sexual history including tales of Lady Godiva, Medieval love traditions, shocking tales from the Tudor court and prostitution during the Victorian era.

Each section is carefully crafted and cleverly written, it enriches the mind and this whole book is hugely satisfying, knowledgeable and highly addictive to read. Each chapter is a different story and written by a different author, and as such it keeps the reader engrossed and you are compelled to keep turning the pages to see what comes next and see what new little titbit from history you will garner. Each tale is fascinating to read, they are thorough and wonderfully researched that keeps the whole thing very real and adds to the enjoyment that you get from the overall book.

There isn’t anything I don’t like about it, it has something from every aspect of history. It is a wonderful read that captivates you and keeps you turning the page.

Hugely recommended!

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sexuality and its Impact on History is available now and can be purchased from

Amazon / Pen & Sword Books

What Is It About Historical Romance by Heather King

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There are many reasons why I love reading and writing historical novels. Firstly, I love history. Secondly, I am just a big softie and like nothing better than a Happy Ever After ending. I should like, therefore, to say a big thank you to Frankie for inviting me to contribute to her blog.

I began by making a list of things which draw me to my favourite era, the Regency. As it grew, just for fun I thought I would make it a Romantic Fiction ABC. Here, then, is my Top Twenty of why I love Historical Romance novels.

Architecture

I just love Georgian architecture, whether as a London town house or a beautiful country mansion. There is something hugely romantic about the arrangement and shape of windows, pediments and porticoes; of marbled floors and the symmetry of rooms around a central entrance hall; of rococo plaster work on ceilings and mantelpieces, and – far from least – the glorious richness of murals and ceiling paintings.

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Breeches and Top-boots

Some ladies find attraction in Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Boss. Not so this romantic author. For me, men in breeches, neckcloths and elegant coats, with top-boots or Hessians, have a swoon factor the half-naked men depicted on some modern covers just don’t have (not that I don’t appreciate a manly chest, you understand!) The sight of Richard Armitage’s Mr. Thornton will always win the heart over his be-stubbled Guy of Gisburne. Although… ahem.

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Mr. Darcy’s outfit from the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice © Heather King

Carriages

There is just something about a four-in-hand and a beautifully turned out equipage that modern cars cannot emulate. Although they were nowhere near as comfortable to travel in (and I appreciate many will disagree with me), cars have nothing to compare with the jingle of harness, the stamp of a shod hoof, the snort of the proud ‘cattle’ poled up. Flying feathers, tossing manes, swinging tails; the glorious, pungent smell of sweat glistening on warm equine hides… ah, sweet bliss to the horse fan!

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The Edinburgh – London Mail, J.F. Herring Snr.

Dresses and Drawers

What can be more romantic than beautiful gowns with frills and flounces? I will confess they have never been my idea of comfortable clothing, but I love to see them and certainly wouldn’t mind possessing an elegant riding habit. I love to read a book where the author has taken the trouble to describe what characters are wearing. For me, that is part of the magic of historical fiction – to be carried away to another time, to escape reality for a while. I hope I succeed in sweeping my readers away to the world my characters inhabit.

Elegance

The Georgian era is renowned for its elegance. Georgette Heyer’s heroes appreciate a well-turned ankle, do not leer over some Page 3 girl. Beautiful porcelain, cut glass and tableware; delicate fans, with their own discreet language; pretty frills and fichus; embroidery, lace and silks; the smooth rotation of a perfect waltz… the instances are many. When I have time, reading a well-written novel or watching an historical drama takes me away from the ordinariness of everyday 21st Century life and allows me the illusion such elegant living has not gone for good.

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Brisé Fan

Furniture

Having longed for a Hygena bedroom in my youth, I now appreciate the beauty of hand-crafted wood and especially that of the Georgian age. I love most old furniture, even utility stuff made during WWII. I should love to have a big kitchen with Welsh dressers, solid oak tables and cupboards. Part of the romance of the Regency era, though, is the elegant mahogany and marquetry you find in many a National Trust property. One day, I have promised myself, I will have Georgian-style winged armchairs and elegant side-tables!

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Dining Room, Hanbury Hall © Heather King

Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is the reason I am writing this blog. Had it not been for discovering her books when I was about eleven or twelve, I probably would not be where I am today. She is the Queen of Regency and although she dismissed her novels as ‘fluff’, you would be hard put to find better written romantic novels. I love her style and wit, her masterly descriptions and the sense of fun her novels convey. When you laugh out loud at a book, it can only be a winner. May I proffer humble thanks, ma’am.

HEA

I admit it. I am a sucker for a happy ending. While there can be an emotional satisfaction in a sad conclusion to a story, if that is what the plot demands, I do like to see my characters happily settled at the end of a novel and I prefer to read books with either a happy ‘ah’ ending or a witty one. Georgette Heyer was particularly adept at the latter and it always left me with a warm feeling. I try to do that with my own stories, because romantic historical fiction should be about escapism. We have enough reality in this modern world.

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Interiors

I love visiting a stately home and seeing a room decorated as it would have been in eras gone by. It is fascinating, especially when it is done in Regency style. Old buildings have an amazing atmosphere. Although a ruin, Witley Court in Worcestershire has the most wonderful feel of secrets and ghosts from times long past. Many years ago I was lucky enough to visit Salzburg in Austria, where the fortress is alive with the spirits of previous centuries. (No, I’m no madder than any other writer, honest!) I try and convey this to my readers through my writing, because for me, romance is not only about the love story.

Jane Austen

What Regency author doesn’t love Jane Austen’s works? She was, of course, writing about her own time and did not invent the Regency genre. Georgette Heyer can be credited with that. However, Jane has bequeathed us so many gems of insight, custom and historical detail. From her works we know the modern delight in contracting words in dialogue (one of my bête noirs in historical novels) is not accurate. She gave us the wicked romp in Lydia and the serene beauty in Jane. She gave us the intelligent, independently minded heroine in Elizabeth and the interfering one in Emma. She also gave us the toe-curling Mr. Collins, the wonderful Colonel Brandon and the worst marriage proposal in English literature! Thanks to Auntie Beeb and Andrew Davies, though, I can no longer read Pride and Prejudice without thinking of Colin Firth and that scene…

LOVE

Love. One of the strongest emotions, it comes in so many forms: Love of life, a subject, a place, a view; love of family, of friends, of pets… and of that one special person in your life. Love is all you need sang the Beatles and they weren’t far wrong. Love makes the world go round. Within the pages of novels from the Circulating Libraries, ladies of the Regency found solace from their humdrum lives and loveless marriages. Nowadays, we buy romance novels by the zillion, just for the sheer pleasure of that perfect, joyful connection with another person. There are few more satisfying feelings than reaching the end of a wonderful book with a happy ending. That warm, fuzzy sensation is love in itself.

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Manners and Courtesy

I am a traditionalist, and appreciate it when a gentleman holds open a door for me or a child says please and thank you. I’m aware I am a dying breed and yes, I am perfectly capable of opening my own door, but it is nice to have it done for me. It is nice when a gentleman helps you out of a car (or down from a carriage!) It is nice to be escorted on a proffered arm and treated with old-fashioned courtesy. It is particularly nice when the gentleman next door mows your front verge with his ride-on mower to save you having to struggle with your old electric one! I love that about Regency novels, that even when people were insulting each other, it was couched in such a manner as to be civil, rather than screaming abuse heavily littered with profanity.

Names

There have been lots of great names throughout the centuries which are now virtually obsolete. Joscelin, for a man, is one of my favourites and finally found its owner in the hero of Carpet of Snowdrops. There is a certain romantic beauty in many old names, I feel… although perhaps not Godfrey, Wat or Alf!

Original

Heroines must have something about them. They must be strong and engaging and preferably have some trait or quirk which makes them unique. That strength need not mean they are independent and headstrong, but that they can deal with whatever ‘life’ throws at them in a fashion which is enjoyable to read. They must also behave in a manner befitting the era they live in. If a Regency heroine talks and behaves in the manner of a modern miss, it throws me out of the story. It is part of the charm and romance of an historical novel to discover how the heroine can claim her hero without overstepping the bounds and mores of the time.

Posting Houses and Coaching Inns

I just love old inns, especially if they still have their original stable yards! I am fascinated by the history of them; the stories of past landlords and noble (or well-known) patrons, of smugglers and highwaymen, of ghosts and crimes. I am also fascinated by the growth of such buildings and how they became famous. Romance comes in so many forms.

Rakes and Rogues

What reader of historical romance doesn’t love a rake or a rogue? With a nod to Frankie, this article would not be complete without them! I admit I do have a soft spot for one – provided he has some redeeming features, loves his lady and is reformed (or at least faithful) by the end of the book. He must be tender as well as masterful and recognize his shortcomings. After all, a gentleman with experience is better set to please his bride! Perhaps my favourite literary rake is Damerel in Georgette Heyer’s Venetia.

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John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, a most infamous rake.

Social History

Well-written and well-researched novels are a fascinating window on the way people lived in a previous time – and what a great way to learn! This is one of the best of the many facets of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen novels: the historical detail. I love to know what people ate, drank, slept in, sat on, used, wore and did for recreation and entertainment. I’m just a nosey so-and-so!

Tattersall’s

As a horse lover, a visit to London isn’t complete without a look-in at Hyde Park Corner and a walk down Rotten Row. The most famous horse sales and bloodstock agency in the world began life here, founded in the 1770s by Richard Tattersall. The Duke of Kingston’s former groom and trainer rented land behind St. George’s Hospital, close to the Corner. It quickly became the place to be seen among gentlemen with an interest in equestrian matters, as well as the place to buy and sell horses. A weekly sale was held and ‘Black Monday’ became the not always humorous nomenclature for Settling Day. It meant the ruin of many an aristocratic name. Tattersall’s is one of the must-see places for young Johnny Raws from the country in any Regency novel.

Vauxhall Gardens

What can be more romantic than a trip down the river to Vauxhall for the characters in an historical novel? Picture the shadowed paths, the tree-lined walks, the music playing and figures bedecked in their finery, flitting like butterflies and chattering like sparrows. It is the perfect setting for a clandestine meeting, a risqué masquerade or an elegant concert followed by supper and a romantic walk along the lantern-lit paths. Such intrigues can be envisaged, such dastardly actions performed, and all for the stroke of pen or press of keypad… Vauxhall was made for romantic fiction!

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Entrance to Vauxhall Gardens, Thomas Rowlandson

Witty Dialogue

Of all the elements of good Regency fiction, possibly the one I like best is the witty dialogue. While Jane Austen had an acerbic wit, Georgette Heyer was the grande dame of the concept in her novels. I laugh aloud when I am reading her books and that does not happen with many authors. I love it when I find someone who writes with that same sense of humour. Of course, beside JA and GH, the rest of we poor mortals can but aspire.

This is one of my favourite quotes and comes from Faro’s Daughter, first published by Wm. Heinemann Ltd. in 1941.

“You will find it very inconvenient to keep me in your cellar indefinitely, I imagine, but I must warn you I have not the smallest intention of leaving it, except upon my own terms.”

***

“But you cannot let the race go like that!” cried Deborah, aghast.

***

“Oh, have you backed me to win?” he said mockingly. “So much the worse for you, my girl!”

© Heather King. All photographs © Heather King, Other images Public Domain

About The Author

heather KingHeather King has made up stories since she was a small child. History lessons at school were rarely dull and the discovery of Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels in her early teens set her on a lifelong love of that era. A confessed romantic and bookworm, writing gives her a chance to indulge all these passions – and call it work!

She has her own voice, but likes to follow traditional Regency precepts and pen uplifting stories with witty dialogue, engaging characters and bags of emotion.

Visiting her Dark Side as Vandalia Black, she writes Vampire and Paranormal romance. She is the author of ‘Vampires Don’t Drink Coffee and Other Stories’ which includes a novella set in the English Civil War.

When not looking after her two hairy ponies, three cats and boisterous Staffie X, or frowning over keypad or notebook, she likes nothing better than to curl up with a good book.

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