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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The French and the English: Their Trouble Relationship in Regency Romance #RB4U #Historical #Romance


I have always loved history. I spent much of my childhood imaging myself in gorgeous gowns while stomping about in the clothes my mother ‘made me wear’. I know real life wasn’t very glamorous – but in my imagination… The Regency Period has always been of particular interest, likely due to a youthful over- indulgence in Georgette Heyer.

However, in addition to Heyer, this period fascinates because it is a society in the throes of change. During my first novel, No Conventional Miss, I focused on the emergence of innovation connected with the Industrial Revolution. My protagonist creates several inventions, including a butter churn. By the way, current historians now recognize the scientific contributions of some amazing women! Three cheers for Sarah Guppy inventor of the tea or coffee urn, which also cooked eggs and warmed toast. Oh yes, and she also figured out a way to keep barnacles off ships.

My new book, Married for His Convenience, is set slightly earlier during the French Revolution.  This era has also always fascinated me; those wonderful ideals which so soon dissolved into blood thirsty chaos. Married for His Convenience touches on that time period and explores its impact on a family touched by its violence. 

The French Revolution greatly impacted English society. More than 40,000 French refugees came, many arriving with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Never reluctant to turn tragedy into a high society event, Victims’ Balls were thrown. When a gentleman entered the party, he would bow his head as if presenting it to the guillotine while women wore red ribbons about their necks to symbolize spilled blood.

Not surprisingly, the French and American Revolutions frightened the British upper classes that were somewhat attached to their heads. This made the British even more hesitant to improve the life of the working poor or change the electoral system.

The society of the time is also a fascinating study in French/English relations, which is another intriguing topic. My mother, staunchly middle-class from Sheffield, England, was never a tremendous fan of the French language or culture. As an adolescent, I found this surprising. Had France and England not been allied during two world wars? Moreover, thanks to Georgette Heyer, I knew that every educated person had to speak French with fluency. Therefore, I was surprised when my own attempts at French conjugations were met by a muffled grunt by my maternal unit.

However, the British and their relationship with French language and culture has historically been influenced by class.  During regency times and beyond, the aristocracy adored the French language, art, fashion, food, wine, furniture. Indeed, the fact that the two countries were at war between 1793 and 1815 (except for a brief truce in 1802), did nothing to lessen this fascination.

In contrast, the British populace, the poor and growing middle class, were strongly anti-French. This attitude was fueled less by the enemy and more perhaps by the French fascination of their own aristocracy. Therefore, my personal theory is that this sentiment continues, perhaps even to this day, and certainly influenced my own mother, grounded as she was in Yorkshire commonsense and middle-class practicality.

As for me, the unraveling of societal mores and influences throughout the ages make the study of history even more fascinating.

About Eleanor Webster

Eleanor Webster has a passion for many things, the most ardent likely being shoes.

But she’s also passionate about a story well told.  With the help of some debutantes and viscounts and a twist of the unknown, Eleanor’s stories weave a tale of enchantment, hope, and most importantly, love.

When not writing, you’ll find Eleanor dreaming of being a world traveler, reading, running, reading, hiking in the wilds of British Columbia, where she makes her home with her husband and two daughters, and – did we mention reading?

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Married for His Convenience

Tainted by illegitimacy, plain Sarah Martin has no illusions of a grand marriage. So when the Earl of Langford makes her a proposal that will take her one step closer to finding her half sister, she can't refuse!

Sebastian's dreams of romance died with his late wife's affair, so now he needs a convenient wife to act as governess for his silent daughter. Yet Sarah continues to surprise and challenge him, and soon Sebastian can't deny the joy his new bride could bring to his life—and into his bed!

Available Now




Google Play: http://bit.ly/2cNcokR


Excerpt

Dramatic events never happened to her. Ever.

‘If I remove my hand, do you promise not to scream?’ The voice was male. Warm breath touched her ear.

Sarah nodded. The man loosened his hold. She turned.

Her eyes widened as she took in his size, the breadth of his shoulders and the midnight-black of his clothes.

‘Good God, you’re a woman,’ he said.

‘You’re...you’re a gentleman.’ For the cloth he wore was fine and not the roughened garb of a common thief.

She grabbed on to these details as though, through their analysis, she would make sense of the situation.

‘What was your purpose for spying on me?’ His gaze narrowed, his voice calm and without emotion.

‘Spying? I don’t even know you.’ The rabbit squirmed and she clutched it more tightly.

‘Then why are you hiding?’

‘I’m not. Even if I were, you have no reason to accost me.’ Her cheeks flushed with indignation as her fear lessened.

He dropped his hand, stepping back. ‘I apologise. I thought you were a burglar.’

‘We tend not to get many burglars in these parts. Who are you anyway?’

‘Sebastian Hastings, Earl of Langford, at your service.’

He made his bow. ‘And a guest at Eavensham.’

‘A guest? Then why are you in the kitchen garden?’

‘Taking the air,’ he said.

‘That usually doesn’t involve accosting one’s fellow man.

You are lucky I am not of a hysterical disposition.’

‘Indeed.’

Briefly, she wondered if wry humour laced his voice,

but his lips were straight and no twinkle softened his expression. In the fading light, the strong chin and cheekbones looked more akin to a statue than anything having the softness of flesh.

At this moment, the rabbit thrust its head free of the shawl.

‘Dinner is running late, I presume.’ Lord Langford’s eyes widened, but he spoke with an unnerving lack of any natural surprise.

‘The creature is hurt and I need to bandage him, except Mr. Hudson, the butler, is not fond of animals and I wanted to ensure his absence.’

‘The butler has my sympathies.’

Sarah opened her mouth to respond but the rabbit, suddenly spooked, kicked at her stomach as it clawed against the shawl. Sarah gasped, doubling over, instinctively whispering the reassurances offered by her mother after childhood nightmares.

‘You speak French?’

‘What?’

‘French? You are fluent?’

‘What? Yes, my mother spoke it—could we discuss my linguistic skills later?’ she gasped, so intent on holding the rabbit that she lost her footing and stumbled against the man. His hand shot out. She felt his touch and the strangely tingling pressure of his strong fingers splayed against her back.

‘Are you all right?’

‘Yes—um—I was momentarily thrown off balance.’

She straightened. They stood so close she heard the intake of his breath and felt its whisper.

‘Perhaps,’ she added, ‘you could see if the butler is in the kitchen? I do not know how long I can keep hold of this fellow.’

‘Of course.’ Lord Langford stepped towards the window as though spying on the servants were an everyday occurrence. ‘I can see the cook and several girls, scullery maids, I assume. I believe the butler is absent.’

‘Thank you. I am obliged.’

Tightening her hold on the rabbit, Sarah paused, briefly reluctant to curtail the surreal interlude. Then, with a nod of thanks, she stooped to pick up the valise.

‘Allow me,’ Lord Langford said, opening the door. ‘You seem to have your hands full.’

‘Er—thank you.’ She glanced up. The hallway’s flickering oil lamp cast interesting shadows across his face, emphasising the harsh line of his cheek and chin and the blackness of his hair.

She stepped inside and exhaled as the door swung shut, conscious of relief, regret and an unpleasant wobbliness in both her stomach and knees.


3 comments:

Melissa Keir said...

I love all the what if's about history. So much animosity back in the day still shows up today! I wish you all the best with your book!

Judy Baker said...

Thanks for sharing. I too love history and use my imagination in making it more romantic than I'm sure it actually was. Love the purple dress.

Paris said...

I loved your excerpt! My introduction to historical romance came when my granny would lend me enough Barbara Cartland novels to occupy my entire summer. Wishing you the best!

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