WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Priest-Linked

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Priest-Linked

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… The Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride

Taking the plunge. Getting hitched. Jumping the broom. Walking the aisle. Going to the chapel. Buying the cow.

There are probably too many euphemisms for simply “getting married.” And all of the above are anachronistic if they show up in a Regency romance. So what exactly did the Regency wedding entail?

I’m glad you asked.

Signing the Register by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1920, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

Priest-Linked

Married.

Marriage in Regency England was governed by the rules of the Hardwicke Act for the Prevention of Clandestine Marriages, which was written in 1753 and went into full effect on 25 March 1754 (no more Fleet or secret marriages). Couples were now required to have the banns called for three consecutive Sundays in their home parish; if the lady and gentleman were of different residences, banns must be called in both. The priest would read out some version of the following:

“I publish the banns of marriage between (Name of party) of the Parish of ______ and (Name of other party) of this Parish. If any of you know cause or just impediment why these persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it. This is for the (first, second, third) time of asking.”

After the reading of the final banns, the couple had to marry between the hours of eight and noon by an ordained priest and in the presence of two witnesses.

The Wedding from The English Dance of Death by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Rudolph Ackermann 1814-1816, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What were the exceptions to the banns?

If the couple needed to marry sooner rather than later, a Common License (also known as Ordinary, Standard, or Bishop’s License) could be obtained from the local bishop. The bishop charged a small fee, but also required a bond of £100 to stand forfeit if the couple provided false information for the license. The couple had to marry in the parish where the license was obtained.

A Special License could be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury; researcher Nancy Mayer records that by 1811 they cost the gentleman £5. The Special License had to be obtained by the gentleman wishing to marry, and every line was filled in while in the presence of the Archbishop (so no fill-in-the-blank Licenses to use whenever, wherever, or with whomever). The couple still had to marry by the benefit of clergy between the hours of eight and noon, but the ceremony did not have to take place in a church. It was a sign of wealth to use the Special License and hold the ceremony in the privacy of one’s home. Remember dear Mrs. Bennett’s declaration to Elizabeth:

“My dearest child,” she cried, “I can think of nothing else! Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! ‘Tis as good as a Lord! And a special licence. You must and shall be married by a special licence.” Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 59

To provide evidence that a marriage had occurred, the couple and their witnesses signed the parish register at the end of the ceremony. This was done in the vestry of the church, whether the marriage had been performed there or at a separate location by Special License. This practice of recording signatures is likely where the colloquialism “marriage lines” originated. These registry lines were then copied onto a separate sheet of paper and handed to the best man, who then passed it on to the new bride (and never the groom). It was considered her property.

Both parties had to have reached the age of majority – one and twenty – to marry without permission of their parent or guardian. Any minor who married without permission was never considered married – it was as if the ceremony had never occurred – no matter the passage of years or number of children (who were all considered illegitimate) since the vows were spoken.

Country Wedding by John Lewis Krimmel, 1820, Public Domain.

Some interesting tidbits about the Hardwicke Act

The Hardwicke Act was law only in England and Wales. Scotland, Ireland, and English colonies. In Scotland, a couple could simply state they were married and live together publicly; anyone over the age of fourteen could do so. No wonder many an English lad and lassie crossed the border to marry, be it by blacksmith, innkeeper, or actual clergyman. Catholic rites were the order of the day in Ireland, although an Anglican had to be married in the Church of England as well.

Quakers and Jews were exempt from the Hardwicke Act, but poor Roman Catholics in England and Wales were stuck. They could obtain a Special License, but the law still required them to be married first in the Church of England before taking Catholic rites. While this was a section of the law many Catholics ignored, the insult to this injury kept their marriage from being valid “until and unless they married according to the law by a clergyman of the Church of England.”

Next week I’ll talk about what it took to dissolve a marriage. Here’s a hint: way more than you’d think, based on popular Regency romances.

For now, let’s enjoy a clip of The Impressive Clergyman in action.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly Timber

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly Timber

We know many things about aristocratic foods and meals during the Regency era, likely from all the Jane Austen books and adaptions we consume, but let’s have a brief review just the same.

Huge meals were the order of the day, and eating carried on what we would consider late into the night. Breakfast was served nearer what is now commonly called lunchtime (when you’re at a ball til the break of dawn, you don’t want breakfast til the break of noon, I suspect.). With such a late ending of one’s fast, there was no further food until dinner, which fell around 6:00pm in the country and as late as 10:00pm in Town. Yes, afternoon tea (not high tea, ever!) became a novelty after its introduction by the Duchess of Bedford, but she was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, so it is not a Regency era construct. It was also not the mini-feast it has turned into today. Think tea with biscuits, not tea with a three-course lunch. Dinner was a formal affair and could last several hours, what with pre-dinner socializing (i.e., drinking and inspecting each other’s wardrobes) and the passing of course after course at the table. Supper, when taken, fell however many hours after dinner the hostess deemed necessary and appropriate, often midnight or later.

Foods served ranged from traditional English fare (what excellent boiled potatoes!) to the continental or worldly dishes of one’s premier chef (Italian if you please, or French if you must, but only after the exile of the Corsican); butter, cream, eggs, and spices were the order of the day, to reflect one’s wealth. Possession of domestic and exotic fruits in a personal orangery was the veritable icing on the dining cake. As the period progressed, the idea of a more organized, mid-day snacking began to take shape – we’ve all read of ladies taking “nuncheon” or “noon shine” nibbles such as bread, cheese, biscuits, and tea –  but it was not a formally-recognized practice until later in the 19th Century. Picnics or riding excursions needing treats, however, could also occur on a whim during the day, taking place anywhere and anytime.

A Brighton Breakfast or Morning Comforts, 1802. Print made by Charles Williams and published by S.W. Flores, British Museum. Mrs Fitzherbert, on the right, says, “Won’t you take another Comforter? we must make haste I expect Noodle [the Prince] here presently.” Her companion replies, “I think your Comforters are bigger than my Johns.” Saucy Gillray.

Regency aristocrats enjoyed more variety in food and drink than ever before, and with this greater choice came more creative ways to cook and bake the victuals. Food preservation techniques were on the rise during this industrious period, as was the phasing out of open-fire cooking in favor of huge (but still labor-intensive) stoves. Bless the poor servants who had to not only make these meals, but sneak their own in at some point during their long and arduous day.

Belly Timber

Food of all sorts.

So what did all this largesse look like? The folks at The Supersizers Go… are so glad you asked. In the final episode of this excellent and entertaining show, The Supersizers Go…Regency, and the world is much better for it. It is well worth your time.

 

  • Find a treasure trove of information and pictures of Georgian and Regency fare at the History Cookbook.
  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • The Jane Austen Centre has a fine list of Regency Recipes for you to try at home.
  • If you’re much too busy and too refined to be entertained by the likes of Sue Perkins washing her face with a combination of brandy, milk, and lemon juice, whilst a scrambled egg white cleans her hair, well … I feel sorry for you. But you can read a thorough recap of the show at Just Hungry. They breakdown the entire episode, relaying every dish served and every ingredient abused for beauty purposes. Bon appétit!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lombard Fever

One of my favorite words is “ennui.” It’s the requisite Regency novel term to use when describing the impetus behind the rakish hero suddenly noticing the different, thinking-for-herself, heroine.

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, by Richard Westall, 1813, National Portrait Gallery.

It’s the requisite Regency novel term to use when describing the impetus behind the stifled heroine plotting to break free of her societal restraints in small fashion, usually catching the eye of the aforementioned rake in the process.

Sweets to the Sweet by Edmund Blair Leighton, public domain.

Ennui means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement (according to the oracle Google). I also enjoy its synonyms: lassitude, languor, lethargy, listlessness.

Nymphs Listening to the Songs of Orpheus by Charles Francois Jalabert, 1853, Walters Art Museum.

As it seems the majority of substitutes must start with an “L,” it’s only fitting the slang equivalent does as well.

Lombard Fever

Sick of the lombard fever; i.e. of the idles.

A portrait of Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, later 1st Earl Granville , at the time of his mission to Saint Petersburg, c. 1804–1809, by Thomas Lawrence.

This gentleman with the vacant eyes, the future 1st Earl Granville, was said to be as boring as he looked. Historian David Wetzel, in A Duel of Giants, writes Granville “was a drab figure, the original stuffed-shirt – starch outside, sawdust within.” Which goes a long way to explaining why the original, original stuffed shirt, one William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire (or Notorious DoD, if you prefer), favored the man with the hand of his daughter, Lady Harriet. Granville was likely a man after Devonshire’s own heart: both men were renowned for their infamous affaires de cœur – Devonshire with Lady Elizabeth Foster (his wife’s best friend) and Granville with his future wife’s own aunt, Henrietta, Countess of Bessborough.

The Hostage by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1912, public domain

In modern parlance, rather than labeling tedium as ‘ennui,’ or even the far less glamorous ‘boredom,’ we would issue instead a flurry of memes emblazoned with the byline ‘I just can’t.’ And this poor lady below is perhaps the can’t-ious of all just can’ts.

Contemplation by Félix Armand Heullant, 1905, Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • If you’re a war history fan, and I am (thanks, dad!), David Wetzel wrote a fantastic book about Bismark, Napoleon III, and the origins of the Franco-Prussian War, called A Duel of Giants. He traces the roots of the conflict throughout European History.
  • I would look up a source to give you for my information on Granville and Devonshire, but what I’ve written is simply information I’ve picked up along life’s road. And really, the men are not worth the effort.
Keep Calm and Read This: Only a Hero Will Do by Alanna Lucas

Keep Calm and Read This: Only a Hero Will Do by Alanna Lucas

This week’s guest is historical romance author Alanna Lucas, who deliciously brings the past to life one romantic adventure at a time. She’s sharing a tantalizing peek into her new release, Only a Hero Will Do. She also has a giveaway opportunity for her fans!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defender of the realm…and his wary heart…

Captain Grant Alexander is an enigma in London society. Dashing and handsome, he coldly eschews marriage. But the ton knows nothing of his role in the Legion: to bring Typhon, the traitor who seeks to destroy the British monarchy, to justice.

When Grant is thrown together with fellow Legion member Elizabeth Atwell, he’s instantly beguiled yet exasperated by this beautiful viscount’s daughter. She has little interest in combing the marriage mart for a well-bred, well-heeled husband, but is adept at code-breaking and handling a bow and arrow. She also refuses to do as she is told, insisting she accompany Grant on his mission.

As Typhon continues to evade capture and dark forces are at work, Grant realizes he must act, not only to protect the realm but Elizabeth too…not to mention his heart, which is in danger of thawing every time she comes close…

Chapter One

London 1811

Elizabeth strolled into the stuffy, overly perfumed, and crowded ballroom. Some of the finest families of the ton were in attendance this evening. She pretended she had not a care in the world, but all the while took note of those around her.

Within the mass of well-dressed lords and ladies, Lord Fynes caught her eye, offering a slight nod toward the less crowded terrace. This was the signal she’d been waiting for all night.

Promenading the perimeter of the dance floor and heading toward the terrace, Elizabeth feigned interest in the quadrille, but continued to glance sideways at the portly Lord Baxter, the man she was to keep an eye on this evening.

Elizabeth had been given the tasks of attending social functions where Lord Baxter was present and taking note of whom he interacted with, and any other odd behavior. If it weren’t for Lord Fynes’ cryptic note about a stolen missive needing to be deciphered posthaste, and Lord Baxter’s sudden decision to attend Lady Caper’s ball this evening, she’d still be at home pretending to be ill. But these new developments took precedence over avoiding social obligations.

Elizabeth’s mother, however, was thrilled with the last minute alteration to the evening’s plans, promising Elizabeth would have a splendid time and declaring that, by the end of this season, her daughter was sure to have an offer of marriage. There was only one problem with her mother’s theory; Elizabeth had no interest in marriage. Truth be told, she had never been a starry-eyed debutante setting her cap at handsome men. Not that she wasn’t interested in the opposite sex. She just did not want to give up the life she’d worked so hard to build. She wanted to serve her country and help bring down Typhon, the Legion’s mysterious and deadly enemy.

Despite the Legion’s efforts to apprehend Typhon over the past several years, he’d continually managed to evade capture. After the last informant had turned up dead, all traces of Typhon and his miscreants had vanished, until last month when the Legion had received word from the Earl of Hartland stating he had uncovered information regarding influential members of the ton who were sympathetic to Typhon’s anti-British cause. Lord Baxter’s name was at the top of the list.

Lord Fynes’ exuberant voice rose above the chatter, breaking into Elizabeth’s reflections. “Miss Atwell, what an unexpected surprise it is to find you here this evening. I do hope your family is well. Is Lord Atwell in attendance?”
She flicked her fan open. “My father is not in attendance, but is well, thank you, Lord Fynes.” Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed Lord Baxter heading their way. The continual mopping of his brow, combined with his anxious expression and jittery movements, added to Elizabeth’s suspicions. She didn’t know if Lord Baxter suspected anything, but there was no time to contemplate the possibility. Lowering her voice, she spoke between waves of her fan. “What news?”

“Standard assignment to be delivered by Cap…” Lord Fynes halted his sentence before pasting a wide smile on his face, and in a boisterous voice exclaimed, “Lord Baxter! I was hoping we’d meet again this evening and continue our engaging discussion about the benefits of sea air on one’s constitution.”

Lord Baxter’s face paled as little beads of sweat outlined the corners of his brow. “Oh yes, of course, sea air… one’s constitution… perhaps later.” He gulped the words down with force. Pulling out a white cloth from the edge of his coat, he wiped his brow with much force. “Quite warm this evening,” was all the man could mutter before waddling away. It was difficult to believe the always-discomposed Lord Baxter could be involved in anything nefarious. Elizabeth suspected the man’s immense wealth had attracted Typhon’s attention.

Masking her thoughts, Elizabeth resumed the role of guest at Lady Caper’s ball. “I had best be returning to my chaperone. It was a pleasure to see you this evening, Lord Fynes.”

“Give your father my regards.” Bowing slightly, Lord Fynes uttered under his breath, “Captain Alexander…tonight.” Without further adieu, he took his leave, disappearing imperceptibly into the festive crowd.

Although she’d been deciphering messages for Lord Fynes since she was an adolescent, Elizabeth had only recently joined the ranks of the Legion, a secret organization created to destroy anything or anyone that might compromise the security of the realm. Thankfully her father had not objected, and her mother had no knowledge of her surreptitious activities.

The daughter of a viscount simply did not risk life and limb. No, the daughter of a viscount was expected to marry well, provide heirs, and know the latest on dits. The daughter of a viscount was expected to behave herself, do what she was told, and not be in possession of a weapon of any sort. Elizabeth had absolutely no interest in being that daughter.

She forced her best smile and prepared to wait. Patience was not her strong suit. Scanning the room, she looked for the man she’d heard so much about but had yet to meet. She’d been following his impressive military career for several years and was anxious to make his acquaintance.

When Typhon had struck again a few weeks ago, Elizabeth was not surprised to learn Captain Alexander had been appointed to discover the identity of the man who had been slowly undermining British authority and weakening general confidence. Typhon’s ultimate goal was to destroy the crown. His ever-expanding organization knew no boundaries, and it was the Legion’s responsibility to bring him to justice. Elizabeth had no doubt Captain Alexander would be the man to accomplish such a feat, and she wanted nothing more than to be part of that team.

Anxious energy coursed through her limbs. If she stood still much longer, she might scream. Across the room, she spotted her chaperone, Lady Carteron—her recently married and dearest friend, Amelia— and decided to join her.
Elizabeth thought it quite ridiculous that, at the age of six and twenty, she still needed a chaperone. She did not quite understand how her younger friend provided any additional protection because of her recent change in marital status. Her mother and father, however, did not share her sentiment.

Girlish giggles followed by excited hushed whispers drifted over from a group of young ladies. The room quieted as all heads turned toward the entrance and the mysterious newcomer. It seemed as if every lady in attendance had noticed his arrival and were prepared to throw herself in his path.

He had the stature of a military man, proud and confident but not arrogant, and stood at least a head above most of the men in attendance. There was an air of danger and mystery about him that Elizabeth found intriguing. Could this be Captain Alexander?

Elizabeth strolled over to Amelia, but kept her eyes settled on the handsome gentleman in a dark blue coat. “Who is the impressively tall man?”

His gaze swept through the ballroom, resting on Elizabeth. Rapid flutters pattered against her chest as her eyes locked with the mysterious newcomer, catching her off guard. She quickly turned her gaze as if looking for someone.
Amelia leaned in and whispered, “That is Captain Alexander. He’s recently returned from Glanmire House.”
Oh dear. Elizabeth had heard he was handsome, but he was a veritable Adonis!

“And standing next to him is Sir Simon,” Amelia added.

Oh, so that is Sir Simon. Elizabeth had heard the numerous tales about his bravery, and his reputation with the ladies. She tried to suppress a giggle. Sir Simon’s renown was second only to the Earl of Hartland’s. She had no interest or time for rakes and scoundrels.

“They’ve been the best of friends since childhood.”

Amelia always seemed to know everything about everyone. Calling her a gossip would have been a gross understatement. Except for the one not-so-minor flaw, Amelia would have made an excellent agent. However, she was instead a loyal friend who, without a doubt, would never betray Elizabeth’s trust. Even still, Elizabeth had always acted with extreme caution regarding her other life. Few knew the truth of her association with the Legion, and she meant to keep it that way.

She happened another glance at Captain Alexander, who was now engaged in conversation with Lord Capers. His stoic features gave nothing away. She suspected that beneath the rigid and all too handsome façade was intelligence and compassion. There was just something about his aura that told her he was a good man. A good man and an excellent spy.

“What do you know of Captain Alexander?” Elizabeth questioned without thought, wanting to know more than just of his military career. Not that she had any interest in the Captain beyond the professional, but she’d often found a person’s past influenced their present course.

Take herself, for example. Elizabeth had always been told she would never be able to fire a pistol, or hit a target with an arrow, or have a place in a man’s world. But the moment her late grandfather had revealed his secret, she’d instantly known the path her life would take. She was going to prove every naysayer wrong.

Amelia took in a deep breath and began to rattle off the facts. “He was a sickly child, often bedridden. Both his parents died when he was still fairly young and has no other living relatives. He has served in the military, but no one knows much about his service apart from his strong sense of honor and duty. He has traveled extensively and speaks multiple languages. Rumor has it that his late grandfather had amassed quite a fortune in trade and acquired Brookhurst, a lovely property near the Peak District. He’s not married.” Elizabeth eyed her friend, about to ask if that was all the information Amelia had on Captain Alexander when she added, “Oh, and he’s thirty years old and has managed to keep all romantic entanglements out of the gossips’ ears. Other than that, his life is shrouded in mystery.”

“Yes, shrouded in mystery.” Somehow Elizabeth was able to hold in the laughter. Apart from extremely personal details, Amelia had covered all the basics.

How would she approach him without raising suspicion? Did Captain Alexander know who she was? Perhaps he already applied to the master of ceremonies for an introduction.

She was contemplating her next course of action when Mr. Cokinbred, one of many fortune hunters in attendance, sauntered to where her and Amelia were standing.

“Lady Carteron,” Mr. Cokinbred said in a polite, if not slightly condescending tone, before turning his attention to Elizabeth. “Miss Atwell, it is a pleasure to see you this evening.” His smile widened revealing a set of ill-maintained teeth. “May I have the pleasure of the next dance?”

Propriety dictated she accept, but conformity was not a common word in Elizabeth’s vocabulary. “I thank you for the offer, but I am rather tired at present.”

Mr. Cokinbred’s face turned to an unflattering shade of red. Under his breath he muttered, “Good evening,” before storming away, clearly displeased with Elizabeth’s refusal.

Amelia leaned in and, with a teasing whisper, said, “Your mother will be none too pleased when she hears of your refusal to dance.”

Ignoring Amelia’s comment, Elizabeth shifted her attention back to the dance floor. The orchestra was in place and guests were lining up for the next set. Sir Simon had already secured his dance partner. She noticed Captain Alexander standing alone off to one side, surveying his surroundings. Despite the lack of gentlemen in attendance, he had yet to ask a lady to dance. Perhaps he was not as much of a gentleman as she’d first thought him to be.

A group of colorful young debutantes paraded in front of Elizabeth, obstructing her view of Captain Alexander. How was she to catch his eye if she couldn’t even see him? By the time the young ladies flitted past, he was nowhere to be seen.

She flicked open her fan for the second time in a span of fifteen minutes and began fanning herself fervently. It was becoming quite the undesirable habit.

“Are you alright, Elizabeth dear?”

Elizabeth clutched her chest with her other hand and let out a long sigh. “It is rather warm this evening. I fear I may be taking ill.”

Amelia raised a single delicate brow, her eyes narrowing with a dubious look. They’d been friends a long time and Amelia instantly knew when Elizabeth was up to something. “I find it rather pleasant this evening,” she teased.
Keeping with her charade for those who might overhear, Elizabeth continued to fan herself. “I believe I just need a moment’s reprieve. Do you happen to know the way to the ladies’ retiring room?”

“Down the hall.” Amelia pointed before adding in a hushed tone, “The same direction in which Captain Alexander disappeared a short time ago.”

Elizabeth snapped her fan closed. “I don’t know why I even bother.”

“Because I am your dearest friend and want to help.” Although Amelia did not know the specifics of Elizabeth’s involvement, she had always suspected it had something to do with the government. On numerous occasions she had tried to weasel it out of Elizabeth, all in good fun of course, but Elizabeth had never conceded. Amelia had promised on pain of torture and death never to reveal what she suspected. And she had never given Elizabeth cause to doubt that promise.

Elizabeth smiled. “Thank you. I won’t be long.”

Edging along the perimeter of the crowd, Elizabeth trudged toward the ladies’ retiring room under the charade of illness. When she reached the hall, she resumed her normal pace.

Elegantly dressed ladies paraded up and down, ready to resume their husband- hunting antics, their giggles echoing off the gilded mirrors and fluted columns.

Even before she saw him, she felt his larger than life presence. Captain Alexander.

She strolled around a column, pretending to admire a rather grotesque orange, green, and gold floral vase. Captain Alexander was leaning against the wall, partially hidden from view by another column and a decorative pedestal. Her earlier assessment of him did not do him justice. He was like a Greek god, but more handsome and far less arrogant.
“Have you noticed that Mr. Devlin’s bays are mismatched?” His soft deep voice sent a tingle all the way down to her toes, catching her off guard for a moment.

What was wrong with her? Despite the many attempts by the ton’s most handsome rakes and scoundrels, she’d never been this distracted by anyone before.

Breathing in deeply to steady her nerves, she swallowed the hard lump in her throat. Neither attempt was of any use. Ignoring the intense fluttering in her heart, she replied in code, “Yes, I believe he acquired them in Dublin.”
Captain Alexander surveyed both directions before nodding toward a partially opened door. Elizabeth glanced behind to ensure no one was watching and then followed him into the dark drawing room.

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to her surroundings. Slowly, a couple of sofas flanking a large table came into focus.

Captain Alexander came up besides her, turned and faced the door. The aroma of fresh soap and leather encircled Elizabeth, infiltrating her senses. They were common enough scents, but on him were intoxicating and far too intriguing.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Miss Atwell.” His words were a mere whisper. “And quite an honor that you side-stepped Mr. Cokinbred and left your chaperone to meet with me.” The teasing tone in his voice made her insides tingle. For the first time in her life she understood why her sisters all swooned at the sight of a handsome man.
“I do not care for the rules of the ton, especially when they are far inferior to protecting and safeguarding our country. I believe you share this sentiment, Captain Alexander?”

A slight laugh escaped his lips. “Yes, I would assume Lady Carteron informed you of who I was and told you my entire life story?”

“Only the highlights.” Elizabeth confessed with a nervous giggle. Focus on the task at hand. “I understand you have something for me?”

Captain Alexander took her gloved hand and slipped a folded piece of paper into her palm, then closed her fingers over the small missive. The motion seemed intimate, inappropriate, and all too enticing. A strange inner excitement coursed through her veins.

“Guard this well. Lord Fynes will be calling on your father first thing in the morning.”

Captain Alexander did not wait for her response, but disappeared further into the darkness of the drawing room. A cool breeze and another hint of fresh soap and leather drifted through the space, followed by the soft click of a door closing.

Elizabeth took the folded letter and smoothed it across her chest, tucking it into her dress and nestling it on the outer curve of her breast. The intense beating of her heart was a steady staccato against her hand. She sighed deeply, letting her head fall back against the wall.

“Elizabeth,” a soft voice questioned from the hall.

At least she wouldn’t have to pretend to be flustered. Captain Alexander had aided her sufficiently with that unwanted response.

She edged off the wall, smoothed her hand across her chest, ensuring the missive was securely hidden, and then strolled toward the doorway. “In here, Amelia.”

Before Elizabeth reached the door Amelia pushed it open, allowing candlelight from the hall to filter into the drawing room, casting eerie distorted shadows across the walls. “What are you doing in here?” She glanced about as if expecting to find someone.

“I just needed a quiet moment.” After her brief encounter with Captain Alexander, that was the truth.

“You are missing all the dancing. I promised Lady Atwell I would not let you be a wallflower this evening. You already turned away Mr. Cokinbred. If you don’t make an effort, your mother will not ask me to chaperone again, and then where will you be?”

Elizabeth had never been a wallflower in her entire life. Her decision not to be social had nothing to do with shyness, but an intense unwillingness to abide by the ton’s rules. But Amelia was right. She had to make an effort, or else risk having her mother at her side at each and every future event of the season until she was married off. A fierce shudder replaced the delightful tingling she’d felt only a moment ago.

She sucked in her breath and forced her best I’m-enjoying-the-evening smile. She might look the part of a viscount’s daughter, but inside beat the heart of a spy.

Grant was relieved to be back in the quiet of his room. He found social functions more draining than marching in the rain through ankle-deep mud. Sighing deeply, he enjoyed the silence that afforded him time alone with his thoughts. The evening had not turned out as expected.

When he’d informed Lord Fynes about the missive he’d recovered and whom he believed had written it, he’d expected his superior to handle it himself. But when Grant received orders that he was to deliver the coded missive to Miss Atwell, he’d expected an old spinster who dabbled in amateur mysteries. However, instead of an elderly woman on the cusp of death, a lady who could bring any man in a room to his knees had greeted him. Not just greeted him, but enticed him in a way no other female had before.

Sinking into the warm comfort of the leather chair, Grant’s thoughts strayed to Miss Atwell. She had turned down a dance and left her chaperone’s side, all to accept a missive? Her large brown eyes held an intelligence far beyond her youthful years, and then there was her luxurious brown hair that glistened beneath the candlelight, not to mention her voice…her voice was pure heaven. She was the type of woman dreams were made of— entirely perfect, but far out of Grant’s reach. Miss Atwell was the daughter of a viscount, lest he forget that not so minor detail.

How was it even possible the daughter of a viscount was the Legion’s top decoder? And why hadn’t he known about her previously?

From Lord Fynes he had learned she was able to decipher codes faster than any man, and also had a knack for puzzles. It was a talent that made her highly valuable to the organization in this game where time was of the essence.

When he’d pressed Lord Fynes for further details about Miss Atwell’s background and qualifications, he’d been warned that the information was classified. Although Grant understood the need for discretion, he detested all the secrecy. It made it difficult for him to do his job and protect his team when he didn’t have all the facts.

He swirled the brandy in his glass, watching the liquid slowly ripple to a gentle stop. Lifting the glass to his lips, he inhaled the fragrant aroma before taking a long, slow sip. The fiery liquid burned as it traveled down his throat and settled into his gut. Why would a lady born to privilege want to do such work?

Grant suspected he could drink all night and still not be rid of the image of the beautiful and intelligent Miss Atwell. He was far too intrigued by her, and not just in the physical sense.

 

 

 

Alanna is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card in celebration of her new release. Click the gift card below to enter!

 

 

 

Alanna Lucas grew up in Southern California, but always dreamed of distant lands and bygone eras. From an early age she took interest in art, history, and travel, and enjoys incorporating those diversions into her writing.

Alanna makes her home in California where she spends her time writing historical romances, dreaming of her next travel destination, and spending time with family.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

 

 

And always remember to #ReadaRegency!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Green Sickness

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Green Sickness

This week’s word is one of those that make you laugh and roll your eyes at the same time. Oh, the taint of virginity on one’s health – the concept implied physical affliction but reality revealed true financial miseries to be the main component. Back in the day, a woman married to survive. Literally.

Perhaps that thought would make one ill.

A girl fainting and collapsing into the arms of a woman, engraving by W. Sedgwick after E. Penny, Wellcome Images (alternative title, Apparent Dissolution).

Green Sickness

The disease of maids occasioned by celibacy.

William Savage, who writes historical mystery novels and blogs at Pen and Pension, has a thorough post on this topic that I encourage you to visit ~ The Cure for Green Sickness. He hooks interest with the first few sentences:

‘Green sickness’ was described as a condition ‘peculiar to virgins’, which was said to turn the skin a greenish colour and leave the sufferer weak and melancholic. It was also believed to be common throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially in girls approaching puberty and in thin and languid young women.

Perhaps she’s dressed in a smart green pelisse to ward off the vile Green Sickness. Walking Dress, fashion plate from La Belle Assemblée, April 1817, public domain.

Are your eyes rolling yet?

Barbara W. Swords wrote an essay comparing the actual status of women during Jane Austen’s time versus the Lady’s representation of women in her works. It’s a historically-rich read for any connoisseur of the era and Austen, but for this week’s purposes of adding sardonic laughter and a groan or two, I adore this quote from a 1770 parliamentary statute (purloined from Ms. Swords’ treatise A Woman’s Economic Opportunities During the Regency Era).

Here we go:

All women of whatever age, rank, profession, or degree, whether virgin maid or widow, that shall from and after such Act impose upon, seduce, and betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s subjects by means of scent, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, ironstays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, or bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law now in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanors, and that the marriage upon conviction shall stand null and void.

It is amazing that parliament omitted those ladies of a greenish hue that were desperate to obtain the marriage cure for their sickness. The beautiful lady above scoffs at the notion of Green Sickness, although perhaps she’ll regret such an in-your-face skewering when she reads about the deadly Regency pigments of Emerald Green and Paris Green at Jane Austen’s Regency World.

But that’s a post for another week.

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. The rest of the links are highlighted in the post. Read and enjoy!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Sham Abram

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Sham Abram

It’s always been a thing for kids to fake an illness to stay home from school. The classic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is predicated on this very concept. Now, I think more adults use this excuse to skip a day of work, having been the creators of the concept back in the day. After all, youth is wasted on the young. Fun Fact: this concept, rather than direct quote, is most likely attributable to George Bernard Shaw instead of Oscar Wilde, according to the Quote Investigator.

But I digress.

Visiting the Sick by James Gillray, published 28 July 1806 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

To Sham Abram

To pretend sickness.

So how does one succeed in shamming wise Abram?

The Sick Prince by James Gillray, published 16 June 1787 by Samuel William Fores, National Portrait Gallery.

So glad you asked.

Consulting the modern-day oracle again, Ferris Bueller, we find the secret is the cold, clammy hands . . . but avoid the phony fever at all costs. That’s a one-way ticket to the doctor, and that’s worse than enduring whatever you have going on in your life. So even though Ferris is describing the parental fake-out, I think it could work on the job as well. There’s nothing like showing up “sick” to make your co-workers scream for you to take the day off. No one wants to catch what you’re trying to share.

Punch Cures the Gout, -the Colic, -and the ‘Tisick by James Gillray, published 13 July 1799 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

To start your Monday off well, let’s learn how To Sham Abram from the master.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Keep Calm and Read This: No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee

Keep Calm and Read This: No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee

This week I get to welcome author Cora Lee. She adores her new dog, the Marvel Universe, and all things Regency. I think she may be the sister I never knew I had! Today she shares some of her research for her new novella (which is free!), No Rest for the Wicked, the kickoff to the new series, The Heart of a Hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dublin’s Hell

When I started developing No Rest for the Wicked, I knew I wanted it to be set somewhere other than London. For the record, I adore London…but so many books are set there, and I wanted something different for this one. My hero had decided that he was the type of guy that protects vulnerable people, so I wanted a seedy, crime-ridden area where lots of vulnerable people needed to be protected. That meant a big city. Some random googling turned up a section of Dublin, Ireland called The Liberties that was known for its high population of poor folks and high rate of crime.

Then I hit the jackpot.

Within The Liberties was a neighborhood called Hell, and in the late 18th century it was everything you’d expect it to be: brothels and crime and taverns with cheap liquor. There was even a Hellfire Club at one point—a gathering place for rich gentlemen to do (sometimes illegal, often crazy) things they didn’t want other people to know about. The neighborhood was named for a little wooden statue of a devil that adorned a gate on a lane leading up to…wait for it…

…Christ Church Cathedral. That’s right, Dublin’s Hell included a Church of Ireland cathedral. And the neighborhood was next door to the old Four Courts building, which was where justice was dispensed. How’s that for irony?

The story gets even stranger, though. The crypt of the cathedral was actually used as a market, with vendors arriving on the appointed days to set up their stalls and sell their wares. At another point in time, that same crypt housed taverns and pubs. After a hard day of work, locals could go have a tankard of ale in the crypt of the cathedral (and yes, this was while it was still a functioning place of worship).

All this in the same church whose choir sang the world premiere of Handel’s Messiah.

That sealed the deal for me. It didn’t matter that the infamy—and the population—of Dublin’s Hell was waning by the turn of the 19th century, and that Wicked was going to be set a little later on. It was just what I was looking for, and I couldn’t resist a place that had been named for a devil living on the grounds of a cathedral. My hero then became the Demon of Dublin’s Hell (Demon rather than Devil because the devil was already there, on the gate), terrorizing those who preyed upon the defenseless and trying his best to clean up his little corner of the city.

In No Rest for the Wicked, my Demon—otherwise known as Michael Devlin—receives a visit from his estranged wife on behalf of Sir Arthur Wellesley (known later as the Duke of Wellington). Sir Arthur is recruiting domestic intelligence gatherers before he goes off to the Iberian Peninsula to fight Napoleon, and he wants the Demon to be a part of his team. That meant that a chunk of the story would take place somewhere other than Hell, so I didn’t get to use to use the setting as much as I’d at first hoped. But I had so much fun learning about Dublin and Hell that I’m considering writing a sequel so I can us them again 🙂

Oh, and that wooden devil on the gate? Rumor has it that someone took him home and carved him up into snuff boxes.

A solicitor by day, Michael Devlin spends his nights protecting the people of The Liberties…until his estranged wife turns up with a summons from Sir Arthur Wellesley. A spy for Sir Arthur, Joanna Pearson Devlin has been tasked with escorting Michael to Cork to join Wellesley’s intelligence gathering ring. Can Michael and Joanna learn to trust each other again and help Sir Arthur fight Napoleon?

No Rest for the Wicked kicks off The Heart of a Hero series, and is available for FREE at Amazon and on Instafreebie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 events, wading through her towering TBR pile, or eagerly awaiting the next Marvel movie release.

Catch up with Cora on the web!

 

 

 

And check out her research boards on Pinterest:

 

And don’t forget to always #ReadaRegency!