Posts Tagged ‘romance’
You might think meeting up with a friend at Starbucks for a cup of coffee is a fairly modern idea, but it’s really a 300-year-old tradition.
In England, the first coffee house was established in Oxford back in 1651 and the atmosphere at these gathering places hasn’t changed all that much in the centuries that followed.
In his Dictionary of the English Language published in 1755, Samuel Johnson described a coffee house as “a house of entertainment where coffee is sold, and the guests are supplied with newspapers.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
These coffee houses soon became centers of artistic and intellectual life in London. However, the drink didn’t go down smoothly in the beginning.
When the hot beverage first appeared in England at around 1650, it was viewed with some mistrust, which led coffee sellers to tout the new drink’s supposed healthful qualities:
It does the orifices of the stomach good, it fortifies the heart within, helpeth digestion, quickens the spirits…is good against eyesores, coughs and colds, rhumes, consumption, head aches, dropsy, gout, scurvy, King’s evil and many others.
The steamy brew quickly came to be viewed as social beverage because the stimulant encouraged conversation.
The quality, company and cleanliness of coffee houses varied, according to César de Saussure’s Letters from London (1725-1729):
In London there are innumerable badly appointed coffee-houses, their furniture spoiled on account of the number of people who frequent them for most of the time, and above all because of the smokers, who quickly ruin the furniture, for you must understand that the English smoke a great deal. In these establishments, you can have chocolate, tea, coffee, all sorts of hot drinks, and, in some, even wine, punch and ale. But it is useless to ask for fresh drinks like orgeat, lemonade, capillaire and the like. They are hardly known in this country.
César de Saussure’s Letters also noted that not all coffee houses were for sipping java and catching up on the news, if you get my meaning…
There are coffee-houses which are the meeting places of scholars and wits; others which are frequented by beaux; others which are only frequented by Politicians and News-Mongers; and several which are Temples of Venus. It is easy to recognise these latter because they often have on their sign the arm or the hand of a woman holding a coffee pot. There are many of these houses in the region of Covent Garden, which pass for being chocolate houses, where the customers are served by beautiful, clean and well dressed nymphs, who seem very agreeable, but who are in fact very dangerous.
These establishments were the first to introduce and serve tea when it came to England from the Far East, which is why a coffee house plays a pivotal role in my latest book, Compromising Willa. The heroine, Willa, is an expert tea blender who secretly donates her special brews to a coffee house that provides employment for poor women and children.
Hartwell, the hero in Compromising Willa, contemplates buying the coffee house building to turn it into the headquarters for his own sugar import business. He is among the first to realize Willa is courting scandal by secretly engaging in commerce. I can imagine modern readers happily settled in a chair at their local coffee house enjoying a cup of joe while reading about the romantic adventures of Willa and her duke. Here’s a little primer:
Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope is ruined and everyone knows it..Back in Town for the first season since her downfall, Willa plans to remain firmly on the shelf, assuming only fortune hunters will want her now. Instead she focuses on her unique tea blends, secretly supporting a coffee house which employs poor women and children. If her clandestine involvement in trade is discovered, she’ll be ruined. Again..
No one is more shocked by Willa’s lack of quality suitors than the newly minted Duke of Hartwell. Having just returned from India, the dark duke is instantly attracted to the mysterious wallflower. His pursuit is hampered by the ruthless Earl of Bellingham, who once jilted Willa and is now determined to reclaim her.
Caught between the clash of two powerful men, a furious Willa refuses to concede her independence to save her reputation. But will she compromise her heart?
Hartwell frowned. “I scarcely see how Lady Wilhelmina can belong to Bellingham if there is no betrothal.”
“There is certain talk no gentleman would ever repeat.” Heenan reached for his mother-of-pearl snuffbox. “Some say it is why the lady has kept herself away from Town for so long.”
“And this is commonly discussed in society?”
“It is not the kind of thing one hears in Mayfair’s drawing rooms,” Selwyn answered in halting tones.
“But most gentlemen about Town eventually hear the talk,” Garrick added with a lascivious smirk.
Heenan leaned over and inhaled snuff into his nose. “Not that anyone dares to cut her in public.” Leaning back in his chair with a satisfied sigh, he used a handkerchief to wipe remnants of the powdery substance from his upper lip. “Impeccable family lines and all. The family carries on as though nothing has happened. She is under the protection of her cousin, the Marquess of Camryn, who is quite influential in the Lords. No one dares risk his wrath.”
“I don’t follow.”
Garrick leaned forward. “They say the chit is compromised. Utterly and completely, if you get my meaning.” He winked at Hart. “But she still acts the frigid princess, all high and mighty. Otherwise, who wouldn’t want to toss up those skirts and give her a good hard—”
Something in his head snapped loose, blinding him to anything but the desire to crush the drunken whoreson beneath his boot heel. He bolted to his feet and shoved the table back with a loud clatter. Towering over Garrick, he grabbed the man’s cravat with one hand and drew back his fist with the other. Garrick shrank back in his chair, wide-eyed, his face pinched with fear. Action at the other gaming tables screeched to a halt. Silence descended; all eyes were riveted on Hartwell.
Selwyn jumped up and placed a calming hand on his shoulder. “Now Hartwell,” he said, partially positioning himself between the two men. “This is just a friendly misunderstanding among gentlemen.”
His neck burned. It was a lie. It had to be. “It is hardly the act of a gentleman to insult a lady’s honor in the most grievous way possible.”
Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Tempting Bella, Book 2 in my Accidental Peers series.
***A winner will be selected this Sunday, Dec. 15.***
Diana Quincy is a former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up her own stories because she can always guarantee a happy ending. As to tea or coffee, she swings both ways except when it comes to mornings, when she must jump start her day with a cup of java.
Even though house parties were often arranged to facilitate advantageous society matches, strict social codes limited the interactions a young lady could have with the gentlemen in attendance.
However, she did have a little help from her fan, which was much more than a mere accessory. An artful manipulation of her fan could do the talking for her without the young lady ever having to utter a word.
Fan were mostly used in royal courts until the Victorian era, when mass production brought the accessory to the masses. In royal courts, fans were kept closed. Opening them and waving them about was considered a sign of poor breeding…until the son of Paris’ premier fan maker arrived in England.
The concept of the fan as a tool of communication is believed to have been brought to London by Louis Duvelleroy, the illegitimate son of the founder of the House of Duvelleroy.
He opened a shop on Regent Street and it was an immediate success. Although there is no concrete evidence fans were used to send coded messages before this time, Duvelleroy played up this idea, and even invented a few secret fan gestures of his own, in order to sell his wares.
Fan makers said there was no passion the fan could not reflect and, held up close to a lady’s face, it seemed to convey its owner’s mood.
Duvelleroy even published a pamphlet called Language of the Fan, which highlighted the coded gestures women had supposedly used for centuries. These messages included sentiments such as “I love you”, “follow me” and “you are cruel,” all with a simple twist of the fan. The Maison Duvelleroy in London included instructions on how to flirt with each fan it sold.
According to Victorian Fashion Accessories by Ariel Beaujot, the following fan gesture instructions appeared in a pamphlet published in 1899:
Open and shut: You are cruel.
Open wide: Wait for me.
Closing: I wish to speak to you.
Shut: You have changed.
Handle to lips: Kiss me.
Dropping fan: We will be friends.
Carrying in right hand: I wish to be acquainted.
Twirling in right hand: I love another.
Twirling in left hand: I wish to get rid of you.
Resting on right cheek: Yes.
Resting on left cheek: No.
Drawing across forehead: We are watched.
Drawing across eyes: I am sorry.
Drawing across cheek: I love you.
For some, the fan was as much of a weapon for a practiced seductress as a sword was for a man. This view highlighted the fear of the power of female sensuality, rather than of the fan itself.
There were, of course, practical uses of the fan. It could hide a yawn if one was bored and the fan could shield one’s emotions, such as an unwanted embarrassed blush, from public view. One presumably wouldn’t have needed a pamphlet to decode these particular gestures.
There is no way to know just how much ladies and gentlemen really knew about fan gestures. The uninitiated might have easily found themselves betrothed or unknowingly arranging a scandalous liaison by an untutored movement of the fan, especially if the young lady happened to place her open fan over her heart, which meant “I love you.”
Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Diana’s upcoming book, Compromising Willa.
Diana Quincy is the author of Seducing Charlotte, Tempting Bella and the forthcoming Compromising Willa (December 2013). While researching the language of the fan, she tried to employ the flirtatious techniques she learned about, but Mr. Quincy did not appear to notice.
We’re giving away three books to one lucky commenter! Read on for more info.
My novella, Where the Heart Is, is a bit of a departure for me as it’s my first contemporary story. I’m so excited to share it with you! It kicks off my new Ribbon Ridge series about a family of sextuplets (and the seventh “oops” kid, plus the “almost brother” featured in Where the Heart Is).
Erica’s story, Midwinter Magic, takes place in her fantastical Nether-NetherLand, a place I wish truly existed because everything about it (from trolls to talking Pegasi to sasquatch lawyers) is full of win. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Charmed, you’re missing out on laugh-out-loud hilarity and sigh-worthy true love.
Finally, The Cheer in Charming an Earl launches The Innocents subset trilogy of Emma’s Naughty Girls Series. If you loved her darkly emotional Courtesans books but prefer lighter fare for the holidays, this is the story you’re looking for. It’s also the only historical story in the anthology, so it will definitely appeal to our Duchess readers!
And if that’s not enough to tempt you, here’s some more intel!
You’re ready to put up a Christmas tree, heat up some wassail, and curl up by a roaring fire, right? Well, you’re going to need a good book to go with that. Lucky for you, you could get THREE! One lucky commenter will get a book from each of us:
From Darcy: Choose any of my historicals (Her Wicked Ways, His Wicked Heart, To Seduce a Scoundrel, To Love a Thief, or Never Love a Scoundrel)
From Erica: Charmed
From Emma: The Trouble with Being Wicked or The Problem with Seduction
To enter, comment with a “Christmas Don’t” of your own! The winner will be announced later in the day on Friday (Duchess Darcy has to go on a field trip with her daughter!).
Thanks for stopping by!
As an author, my romance novels are often inspired by history and my latest book, Tempting Bella, is no exception. The story begins when a 13-year-old girl is forced to marry the heir to a dukedom in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers.
It’s a provocative start, but the fact that it was inspired by a true story is what makes it even more compelling. However, as occurs in Tempting Bella, the real-life union did not start as a happy one.
According to accounts from the time, the marriage was arranged after the first Duke of Richmond lost a round of cards to the first Earl of Cadogan. To settle the 5,000-pound debt, a marriage between Lord March, the duke’s heir, and Lady Sarah Cadogan, the earl’s daughter, was arranged.
It is unclear exactly who lost the game. Most accounts suggest Lord Cadogan won. However, his daughter was an heiress who would bring a great dowry to the union, so it’s possible the duke emerged victorious.
Whatever the case, the following day, the debt of honor was paid when Lord March was brought from university and young Sarah from the nursery, to stand before a clergyman. When the handsome young groom spotted the plain awkward girl, he is said to have exclaimed in disgust, “You are surely not going to marry me to that dowdy!”
But whether he liked it or not, the marriage did indeed take place. Immediately afterward, the groom jumped into a waiting carriage and, accompanied by his tutor, headed off on his Grand Tour of the continent. The bride, meanwhile, returned to her mother and the nursery.
Years later, when Lord March returned home after his travels, he was known to be “a strikingly handsome, cultured young man” who wasn’t eager to renew his acquaintance with his “ugly duckling” wife.
On his first night back in London, avoiding a much-dreaded reunion with his wife, Lord March attended the opera. In the box opposite, he spied a beautiful woman and asked who she was.
“You must indeed be a stranger to London,” was the answer, “if you do not know the beautiful Lady March, the toast of the town!”
Shocked and disbelieving, Lord March went to the box and introduced himself. He was delighted to learn that it was true, the enchanting woman was none other than his wife.
The marriage is said to have been an enormously happy one. The Richmonds were known to kiss, coo and cuddle constantly. On one occasion, an acquaintance of the couple, Horace Walpole, said “the duke sat by her side all night kissing her hand and gazing at his beautiful daughters.”
It was also a fruitful union. The couple made excellent use of the marriage bed. Sarah got pregnant twenty-eight times and twelve children survived. When the duke died in 1750 at the young age of 49, Sarah was despondent. She died a year later, in 1751, at the age of forty-five.
Those who knew the couple said the duchess died of a broken heart.
While I do re-imagine key parts of the Richmonds’ love story—such as the youthful marriage and the first sighting at the opera—Tempting Bella takes its own course as my hero and heroine struggle along their way toward happily ever after.
Here’s a preview and excerpt:
Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl. And it’s just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who married her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed.
Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day, after a teenaged marriage forced upon him to rescue his family from certain ruin. His attempt to honor his vows to his absent wife have earned him the nickname, “The Saint.”
But when he encounters an enchanting impish beauty at the opera, Sebastian cannot resist learning who she is. He is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride.
Already resentful of his early abandonment, Bella is suspicious of her husband’s unusual activities —mysterious midnight outings and apparent liaisons with pretty servant girls. Then there is the mounting evidence that Sebastian is not who he claims to be.
Guarding the painful secret of his true identity, Sebastian is entranced by Bella. Delighted by his good fortune, he is eager to make her his wife in truth. But he soon realizes the beguiling lady has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed!
Uttering an uncharacteristically terse thank you to the butler, Sebastian took Bella’s arm to escort her above stairs. His rigid posture, the intransigent set of his expansive shoulders, the very deliberate click of each boot step, all belied that otherwise calm exterior.
He was angry. Furious even.
The hair on the back of her neck tingled. She’d never seen him truly out of sorts. His demeanor brought to mind that ominous lull before a natural disaster strikes.
He hastened his steps, practically dragging her up the stairs, pulling her arm, moving quickly. When they reached her chamber, he did not leave her as he usually did. Instead he stepped in behind her.
“Thank you, Louisa, that will be all,” he said to the sleepy girl, who’d waited up for her mistress. “Go and seek your bed.”
As soon as he closed the door behind the maid, Bella spun around to face him, her heart clamoring. “I did not give you leave to enter my bedchamber. Please show me the courtesy of departing at once.”
He pulled off his cravat and folded it in a slow deliberate manner, as though he hadn’t heard her. Removing his tailcoat, he placed it neatly over the back of a chair.
Alarm trilled down her spine. “Why are you disrobing?”
Unbuttoning his waistcoat, he said, “Take off that dress.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He advanced toward her, the muscles in his thighs flexing powerfully as he did so. “You heard me.”
Hugging herself, she stepped back from him. “I will do no such thing. Leave or I will scream.”
Cold anger glittered in his eyes. “Take if off or I will take it off for you.”
Do you have a favorite love story, real or imagined? Please leave a comment
for a chance to win a digital copy of Book 1, Seducing Charlotte.
Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Growing up as a foreign service brat, she lived in many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. Diana loves to hear from readers. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and visit her website.
Today, the Dashing Duchesses are pleased to welcome Regency author (and attorney) Ella Quinn. Ella has agreed to share with us some fascinating tidbits about estate law, Regency style. So, pull up a leather chair in the study, dears, and let’s learn about the law.
During the Regency period, the Hardwicke Marriage Act of 1753 was in effect. The purpose of the Act was to regularize all aspects of marriage and the ending of a marriage. The Act itself was not very specific about many matters except that it had to be performed by clergy of the Anglican Church. The Church rules were specific as to marriages.
There were three ways to marry: reading the banns, buying a license, and elopement.
I open my browser, start a search, and then come up for air two hours later with no word count, Mt. Laundry is still untouched and a family meal uncooked. My eyes are glassy, I have crazy-person hair and really, really have to pee. So what happened?
The Internet Time Warp.
That’s right. You go in, and you never come out. Thing is, research is a historical writer’s best friend. You must know the time period, and you must know the oddest little details so you don’t make a ghastly mistake. I wouldn’t wish to tarnish my Duchess tiara! (Of course, now that I say that, I’m guaranteed to make said ghastly mistake.)
The Dashing Duchesses welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Regency romance Grace Burrowes.
It’s been an excellent year for Duchess Grace Burrowes.
Not only is her book, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish, nominated for a 2012 RITA, but it also won the 2012 Romantic Times Best Historical Romance Reviewer’s Choice award.
Now, Lady Sophie’s sister gets her own story in Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, due out May 1.
Taking a quick break from picking up kudos and writing the next installment in her “Duke’s Daughters” series, Her Grace joins The Duchesses for a chat about her latest title…and her whirlwind year.
Duchess Grace is also giving away three signed copies of Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, so leave a question or comment to enter to win!
Today the Duchesses of Dash welcome wonderful, witty USA Today bestselling author of Regency Romance Kieran Kramer.
Post in the comments below and enter to win!
Duchess Valerie: Thank you for visiting the duchesses today, Kieran. You’ve had a varied and interesting employment history. Please share with our readers a little of that. You were a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, no? And an CIA agent?
I am thrilled and delighted to host the lovely Leigh LaValle, whose debut book THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS comes out tomorrow! COUNTESS has already earned great early acclaim, including:
- 4 stars from Romantic Times: “LaValle’s debut is exciting and action packed, with a hero and heroine who play well off each other.”
- A blurb to die for from Tessa Dare: “Leigh LaValle weaves an enthralling tale of passion and deception, laced with charm and wit…a captivating new voice in historical romance.”
- Another blurb to die for from Courtney Milan: “an enchanting debut, full of passion, angst, danger, and the promise of true love.”