A Legend to Love Series: His Duchess at Eventide by Wendy LaCapra

Lovers reunited & a dukedom reclaimed—the Regency meets the Odyssey

Lord Cheverley, son of the Duke of Ithwick, never wanted to go to war, but when he eloped against his father’s wishes, the furious Duke forced him to choose—either take a naval commission, or have his marriage annulled. Devastated physically and emotionally by seven years of war, a shipwreck, and six years in the captivity of a brutal pirate, Cheverley returns to England to find that the courts have declared him dead, and his wife is entertaining suitors. Should he demand his rightful place, disrupting his family’s lives, or should he return to sea, seeking vengeance against the pirate? He sets out to find the answer in disguise.

Penelope once believed in love, but then the man who swept her off her feet deserted her, leaving her and her unborn child utterly alone. Now a widow, she will do anything to protect her son, including enlisting the aid of a mysterious sea captain to uncover the true intentions of her devious suitors. When the captain awakens something in Penelope she thought long dead, she begins to suspect he is no stranger. But, as they peel back the layers of a deadly plot, can this broken family heal their wounds in time to save what really matters?

“You even smell like him, not that I can remember what he smelled like because that would make me sound mad. But your scent makes me confused and hot and longing and I’m fairly certain his did as well, however that could have been the fact we were sixteen and sixteen is entirely too, oh, blast, I can’t, I tell you! I just cannot—”

“Shh,” he soothed. Tentatively, he rested his hand against the small of her back.

“No! Not shh! It’s terrible. A complete muddle.” She splayed her hands against his chest. “I’m still bold and you’re still impossibly hard but you aren’t a toff—and I’m me and you’re not you and I’m—well—I am going mad, aren’t I? That’s the only explanation.”

“Shh,” he repeated, crumbling inside.

“Stop shushing and just—” she grabbed his wounded arm and wrapped it around her waist. Then, she placed her hand on his nape, curled her cheek into his neck and sighed. “There. Now I will shush. This is right.”

This was anything but right. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“That helps,” she replied.

“Helps make you feel better?”

“No. It helps to make you, you, not him.” She sighed. “Chev never apologized, you see.”

 

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A Legend to Love: The Duke of Darkness by Cora Lee

His enemies called him the devil.
There were few people in the world the Duke of Rhuddlan could trust, least of all his scheming brother Nicholas. So when a spate of violence is perpetrated against people with a connection to the duke, Rhuddlan knows who is behind it. But how can he end this vicious campaign when Nick is backed by the King’s own son?

Hers call her a temptress.
Olivia Stone wants nothing more than to live quietly in her little cottage, but with a cruel suitor determined to possess her and an income that is steadily diminishing, she’s left with no choice but to appeal to her wealthy cousin–whom she’s never met–for assistance. Will he give it? Or will she be forced to marry a man she fears?

Can they see past the rumors to find true love?
When Rhuddlan knocks on Olivia’s door with a plan to help them both, she’s skeptical but sees no other option. Working together sparks a flame between them neither could have predicted, but when Nick discovers the relationship, he becomes determined to destroy their hope for happiness. Can Rhuddlan finally put an end to his brother’s devastation before someone is killed? Will Olivia still want him when she sees how ruthless he can be?

“You do have one option.”

Olivia straightened, keeping one hand on Artie’s furry head as she faced Mrs. D. “Teverton?”

Mrs. D. didn’t react to the name, but she didn’t have to. It was a discussion they’d had before. Lord Teverton was Olivia’s closest living relative and head of her family, but the only thing she knew about him was that he owned an estate near Liverpool.

“What if he turns me away?”

No one could legally force Olivia to marry Sir George, but if she went to Teverton for help and he refused, her only choice would be between George and slow starvation as the demand for her work continued to decline and her past slowly caught up with her.

“But what if he doesn’t?”

Olivia pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. What if Teverton was an honorable man who promised to protect her? Did she even have paper to write him a letter and ask?
“What about His Grace?” she said suddenly, dropping her hands to her sides. The breeze picked up, carrying with it the scent of the mint growing a few feet away.

Mrs. D. took a step back. “What about him?”

“Well…he’s here. Teverton is all the way in Liverpool. Or at a different estate completely. And the duke ought to be amenable to my situation—if I am hale and hearty, I can continue paying my rent every quarter.”

Mrs. D. shook her head faintly. “You can’t mean to ask him for help.”

“At least I’ve made his acquaintance,” Olivia replied slowly. “Better the devil you know.”

“Devil is right,” Mrs. D. said, her mouth pulling into a pucker as if she’d eaten something sour. “I know we helped him this afternoon, but that was basic decency. You know what they say about the man.”

Olivia did know. She’d borrowed a battered copy of a story called The Vampyre from a friend in the village the previous week, and had read it aloud to Mrs. D. and Mrs. H. after dinner one evening. They two older ladies had exchanged a knowing look, and it had taken some doing to get Mrs. Hatch to elaborate.

“The Duke of Rhuddlan,” she’d said with a shudder. “Some think he’s like that. A vampire.”

She’d refused to speak of it further, and Olivia had let it drop. But she’d made an inquiry or two when she returned the book a few days later, and Mrs. Hatch wasn’t the only person who thought there was something unholy about His Grace.

Get a copy of The Duke of Darkness from your favorite online vendor at:

 

 

A graduate of the University of Michigan with a major in history, Cora is the 2014 winner of the Royal Ascot contest for best unpublished Regency romance. She went on a twelve year expedition through the blackboard jungle as a high school math teacher before publishing Save the Last Dance for Me, the first book in the Maitland Maidens series.

When she’s not walking Rotten Row at the fashionable hour or attending the entertainments of the Season, you might find her participating in Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America events, wading through her towering TBR pile, or eagerly awaiting the next Marvel movie release.

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A Legend to Love: The Promise of the Bells by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

A Legend to Love: The Promise of the Bells by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

This week’s new release in the A Legend to Love series is based on a legend that’s a bit different: Dick Whittington and his cat.

Most have heard the story of the poor boy who went to London to make his fortune, believing the roads were paved with gold. He found work with a merchant, but the housekeeper was mean to him and he was miserable. Dick found solace in his cat (who was also handy at keeping away rats). One day, the merchant announced he was going to take a trip abroad, and servants were welcome to give him something of value to trade.

Dick gave up his cat – his dearest possession. Again, he was treated poorly – and was about to leave London for good – when he heard the church bells that appeared to be calling him to return, and that he would be Lord Mayor of London three times.

He returned and discovered the merchant also returned with Dick’s fortune. One night, when the merchant was dining with an Eastern king, the dining hall was overrun with rats. The merchant told the king he had a cat who would deal with the rats. The cat did and the king was so delighted that he paid a fortune in gold for the cat.

But there is a twist in the tale – Dick Whittington was an actual historical figure. Richard (Dick) Whittington was actually Lord Mayor of London in the 14th century.

Unlike the legend that grew up from the late 17th century, Whittington was a younger son of a aristocratic family and a successful merchant. He was known for his probity, honesty and charity. He was also a shrewd political operator too. As Lord Mayor of London, he was in charge of great wealth and kept on the good side of both Richard II and Henry IV. He commissioned a great number of public works including sanitation and was also major benefactor of St Thomas’ Hospital, endowing a wing to look after unwed mothers and their babies. No one knows where the cat entered the picture, and there is no evidence that he ever had one but it is now so entwined with the legend that it is impossible to tell the story without it.

 

Young Richard Whiting comes from a poor family but he’s given a golden opportunity – to move to London to further his education. On the way there, he is befriended by Lord Ambrose and his young daughter, Catherine ‘Cat’ Swanston, and Richard and Catherine become sweethearts.

In order to make his fortune, Richard is pulled into a different life but the young couple vow beneath the tolllng bells of the churches of London to always be there for one another.

Years later, now an up and coming barrister, Richard learns that Catherine needs help. Her father is missing, and His Lordship’s business partner refuses to provide any information. It will take Catherine’s bravery and Richard’s legal cunning for there to be a happily ever after…

The Promise of the Bells is a sweet romance. Richard and Catherine are such a lovely couple – and you get to meet Mog, Richard’s Calico cat!

Get your copy today!

 

 

 

A Legend to Love Series: A Wulf in Duke’s Clothing by Renée Reynolds

A Legend to Love Series: A Wulf in Duke’s Clothing by Renée Reynolds

Time to toot my own horn: A Wulf in Duke’s Clothing goes live this week!

I chose the epic of Beowfulf – the tale of the hero of the Geats who came to the aid of Hrothgar, King of the Danes, whose great hall was plagued repeatedly by the monster Grendel. To adapt the story to Regency England, I created and an Earl named Grenfell, and had him plague a a family named Rothgard. Beowulf became the Duke of Conall, which means ‘wolf’ in Gaelic, as his family seat is near the Scottish border. This allowed me a bit of a double-play on words, tying in the old Beowulf to the new Wulf.

Here’s the blurb and a sneak peek!

The Earldom of Rothgard has a long and storied history of strength, wealth, and integrity. But the death of the current matriarch hits everyone hard – most especially the Earl – and he tumbles into a mourning so intense his life becomes lost in a shroud of grief. His eldest daughter, Lady Isobel, steps up to lead the family so her brother can continue at university while her younger sisters experience a childhood of some normalcy.

Finding weaknesses in all Lady Isobel does to protect her family, an unseen enemy seizes an opportunity to launch financial and personal attacks. When treading water in the mess yields not success but rather an overwhelming sense of imminent drowning, she is forced to seek aid from her father’s well-connected friends—the fate of her family depends upon it.

Help arrives in the form of an arrogant, handsome gentleman seemingly suited more for the ballroom than the battlefield. The Duke of Conall, the ‘Wulf of the North,’ is an enigma in bespoke boots and tailored jackets. Yet behind the facade of cultivated ennui and charm beats the heart of a warrior—one who quickly recognizes the enemy tormenting the Rothgard family.

The Duke comes prepared to fight…but did he also come prepared for love?

The entrance of Rothgard Hall, Derbyshire, April 1812

“Turn around, remount your horse, and I shall not shoot you today . . . Sir.”

The pause before the ‘sir’ was deliberate, just short enough to seem polite, but long enough to broadcast the insult. He would have chuckled had he not sensed the sincerity behind the words. His eyes scanned the entrance to the imposing estate, but the clear day and size of the area caused the voice to seemingly come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He must have hesitated too long himself as further instructions rang out.

“I had not planned to practice sighting my guns today, but as you are obligingly ignoring my directives, I will take advantage of the opportunity. I should warn you that I am a crack shot and your immobility all but guarantees my aim shall fall true. I have only to decide which part of you needs a ball in it most.”

The owner of the voice remained unseen, but the ominous cocking of a pistol drew his attention to the massive planter on the right side of the landing between the flights of stairs. No shrinking violet, this one, he thought. She had not been hiding, merely tactically placing herself near cover should it be necessary. The lady stood taller than most, had striking dark hair and eyes, and wore a topaz morning dress not in the first stare of fashion, but of high-quality material and extremely well-made. Her found himself taking notice of her skirts and the wisps of hair about her face, gently rippling in the light breeze. She raised one pistol, aiming it dead center at his chest, and returned his attention to where it belonged.

Clearing his throat, the action as foreign to him as the sudden attraction he felt toward this stranger threatening his life, he began his mea culpa.

“My Lady, I believe I should introduce myself before we have cause to regret your actions.” Despite not knowing her identity, he still sensed he spoke to someone of import.

“Save your speech to occupy your thoughts on your journey back down my lane. The only introduction you need concern yourself with is this ball greeting your torso.” An impish smile spread across her face as she raised one brow as if in a cocky salute. “And I assure you, I shall feel no regrets in the matter.”

And with those saucy words and braggadocio, the famously aloof and impassive Duke of Conall thought he might be in love.

Grab your copy of A Wulf in Duke’s Clothing at all online vendors today!

 

 

 

Author Renée Reynolds grew up all over the world in a family whose motto is you can never learn too much, travel too much, or talk too much. She owns an impressive stack of degrees that she ignores to instead write about what she cannot do: go back in time to dance at balls and flirt with lords and scoundrels.

Renée found her happily ever after in Texas, where she resides with her family and a menagerie of pets. They’ve added to the family motto: you can never read too much, too often, or too late at night.

Catch up with Renée:

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My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance

via Reddit.com

via Reddit.com

Earlier this week, I wrote of the terrific slang term clanker, meaning “a great lie.” The imminently quotable philosopher Barney Stinson once said of clankers:

A lie is just a great story that someone ruined with the truth.

For real.

As an author of Historical Regency Romance, there are few things as frustrating as writing what you think is a terrific scene only to find out through research that your situation could not have happened for another fifty years. Or that the words you think made your dialogue Oscar-worthy weren’t even thought of for another five generations.

Pffft.

I love history and I love research, so it’s no chore for me to dig deeply into archives and contemporaneous resources to find the meat for my stories…but this does not make me hung up on being 100% historically accurate 100% of the time. Care should be taken to be as authentic as possible, but there is room for creativity and invention without completely disregarding archival facts. I like characters with independent, curious natures and sparkling wit, but they can still be properly attired and mannered when in Society (though not necessarily in private!). As an author, I have to set up my narrative in a way that makes the anachronism plausible and thus acceptable in my story.

credit: Trevor Hudgins http://tinyurl.com/pcc9ygm

Abe Lincoln. Word. Credit: Trevor Hudgins http://tinyurl.com/pcc9ygm

If we can all find some common ground and agree to the premise that Regency romance is fiction and that some artistic license is allowed, can there still be errors that bump readers out of our time period, and thus out of our stories? Most definitely.

Some errors – whether accidental or purposeful – are so egregious that readers say they have to physically restrain themselves from throwing their Kindles against the wall. When accidental, we authors have a responsibility to learn from and vow not to repeat those mistakes. When purposeful, we authors need to support our choices: by explanation in the notes at the end of the story, by context in the anachronistic scene, or by consistent narrative that makes the error necessary and relatable to our entire plot. It’s a fine line to walk, and care must be exercised to make sure the historical embellishment (such as the educated and politically-minded heroine) doesn’t stray into the implausible (said heroine decides to stand for her deceased father’s seat in Commons because she must fight for her neighbors’ rights).

It’s a gamble to play fast and loose with historical fact. When successful, it’s wonderful (“I love this book!” gushes one reviewer). When it fails (“This book needs to be burned with fire!” raves a reviewer)…well…it just fails.

Just as it’s unreasonable to have doctors shock patients back to life with a MRI or cars maneuvered by gear sticks rather than steering wheels, I think there are some clankers in Regency romance that need to be phased out. I’ve made a list of the ones that bother me enough to eliminate.

So much anachronism, so little time. Austenland (Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 Films).

So much anachronism, so little time. Austenland, Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 Films

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance:
(in no particular order)

1. The engagement notice to the newspapers. Some marriages had notices placed, but never betrothals.

2. The threat or bargain of a simple annulment or divorce. Annulments occurred due to ineligibility of the participants (someone was too young or the guardian’s permission was not granted) or inability of the male (ahem). Divorce was even more difficult. Both were ugly, drawn-out, and expensive. See Nancy Mayer’s thorough explanation on Dissolving a Marriage.

3. The overnight elopement to Gretna Green. Only if you begin the trip in Yorkshire.

4. The heroine must marry by age 20 or be “on the shelf.” I admit I’m torn about this one. A simple check of parish registers reveals marriage of the extremely young to be the exception rather than the rule among the peerage…but I do love a good “almost a spinster” storyline!

5. The threat of disinheritance of the heir apparent by the parent/guardian. This clanker is usually tied to the main plot of why the hero marries the heroine (i.e., the hero is threatened with the loss of peerage unless he produces an heir, nabs a respectable wife, changes his rakehell ways, etc.). The heir’s title cannot be withheld or given away; parents and peerages were stuck with the firstborn. In book three of my Lords of Oxford series, Earl Crazy, the earl grandfather petitions parliament to amend the Letters Patent of the Aylesford Earldom to change the line of succession. Change could take place, but not via threats, just arduous and slow parliamentary procedure. Better to just blackmail and bully the heir with penury; parents didn’t have to send along enough of the ready to run the peerage.

6. The heroine is alone with the hero (or any unrelated male) and thus compromised. This situation alone didn’t force marriage. Extenuating circumstances were called for: her skirts up around her waist; traveling alone, especially overnight; those discovering the twosome demand satisfaction (through duel, marriage, etc.). If all parties agreed to just let it lie (or let it lay; I can never remember the grammar here), there was no scandal.

7. The Upper Ten Thousand. Not until the Edwardian era. The Regency featured the ton, beau monde, and Society (to name a few).

8. The necessity of permission from Almack’s patronesses to waltz. There is zero/zilch/nada contemporaneous documentation for this entrenched clanker. The earliest documentation of the concept occurs in the novels of Georgette Heyer. Several reputable research sites still list this myth as fact, which only strengthens the truth behind the adage of always going to the source. In a review dated 16 July 1816, a writer from the London Times reported:  “We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last.” This was the King’s Birthday Ball. Although the waltz had been danced in England much earlier than this (privately, and especially in the country and by the lower orders), the writer notes that inclusion at the Kings Birthday Ball will make the popularity of the waltz spread like disease. Despite this writer’s near apoplexy over the dance, no mention was made of permission nor patronesses. It seems were there a way to stem the tide of its unfettered acceptance, this writer would have stressed any restrictions.

“So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

9. The legitimization of a bastard. Never. Ever. A natural child could be included in a will to receive money or unentailed property, and they could be acknowledged openly by the family, but they could never claim legitimacy nor be put in the line of inheritance.

10. The concept of adoption. Much like a bastard, an orphan or foundling could be taken in and receive money or property in a will, but there was no concept of adoption as we know it. This can be confusing because bringing an orphan or foundling into the home was called adoption – but it’s not a legal term, just a familial one.

His Royal Highness George, The Prince of Wales, in Blackadder the Third.

His Royal Highness George, The Prince of Wales, in Blackadder the Third.

🌟 11. BONUS: The misuse of titles. I’m going all-in on this clanker, which probably deserves a rant post of its own. When writing about the aristocracy,  there’s just no escaping the necessity of proper address and use of titles. Could a reader ever take seriously a story set in a hospital where the doctor was always addressed “Mr. Randall?” Likewise, would it pull a reader out of the story if nurse Stephanie Smith was addressed as Doctor Smith in her scenes? That’s a contemporary example of the misuse of titles. I’d love to declare a universal embargo on lordly dukes and baronets (His Grace and Sir FirstName, if you please), married ladies going by their first names, and unmarried ladies sporting title names. Does anyone else hear nails on a chalkboard? To be in the know, reference Nancy Mayer, Laura Ann Wallace (Chinet), or venerable Debrett’s.

I write Regency romance and will be the first one to admit that I make multiple mistakes; some are discovered before publishing, and some slip through the editing net and go live. It is a difficult job to keep everything straight all the time. But guess what?! It’s my genre and I’m sticking with it. With great power comes great responsibility – the responsibility to do all that I can to thoroughly research and produce an authentic product.

So what do you think? Did I miss some big clankers? Are any of these lovelies too delightful to stop using? Is clanker too harsh a word – would you prefer “trope?” Am I too nitpicky? Tell me what you think in the comments below!