Welcome to Romance Week!
Today I have the wonderful Lorraine Heath and Chrystal @ Snowdrop Dreams of Books has the equally amazing Lisa Voisin!
Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies "won't half make you cry."
She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero--Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her "dual" nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.
When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.
She also writes for teens under the name Rachel Hawthorne and Jade Parker.
Why Victorian and Not Regency
It’s such a pleasure to be here today and to participate in Romance Week. As a writer of romance novels, I love romance. Aislynn suggested that I write a post on my favorite time period. It would have to be the Victorian period since it’s the period I write about. Why not Regency? I’m probably not witty enough for the dry banter that usually goes on between the hero and heroine. I’ve done more research on the Victorian period than the Regency period because my first few books were set in Texas in between 1860 and 1880, so I’m more familiar and comfortable with the Victorian period. There are many differences between the two periods and I thought I would highlight a few here.
Regency Set: 1811-1820
The Regency Period had the Napoleonic Wars, which are always wonderful for intrigue and spying. England was united during this period as everyone worked to defeat a common enemy.
The Victorians had the Crimean War (and Florence Nightengale), the Boer wars, and a host of smaller wars throughout the world as Victoria expanded Great Britain’s territories. Most people didn’t care about the small wars. Many didn’t support the wars being fought. The British wouldn’t come together again as a nation as they did for the Napoleonic wars until World War I.
The Regency Period had gas lighting, which was first introduced in 1807
Later Victorians had electricity. The first public power station was built in 1882
During the Regency Period, couples had the option of eloping to Gretna Green for a hasty marriage—so romantic in romance novels.
Elopement was a bit trickier for the later Victorians because a law was passed in 1856 that made Gretna Green marriages null and void unless both parties resided in Scotland for 3 weeks prior to the ceremony.
For Regency women, the style of dress tended to be high waisted (called short-bodied back then).
Victorian ladies, on the other hand, had the pleasure of dealing with corsets, the hooped skirt, the many skirts, and the bustle.
The Victorians were all about rules and they’re responsible for many of the sports we enjoy today: football (otherwise known as soccer), rugby, cricket, tennis . . .
Victorians were into bicycling and “rinking” — or as we call it today, roller skating.
With the rapid industrialization that occurred during the Victorian era, the middle and new upper class had time for leisure and they began a practice known as “taking holiday.” Seaside resorts flourished. In 1872, The Art of Travel, was published to explain how to properly serve tea in remote environments and other ways to remain civilized while traveling in harsh regions.
For romance novels, the most striking difference between the two periods, I think, is the effect that the Victorian period had on the aristocracy.
During the Regency period the aristocracy was viewed with a great deal of awe. They were the upper crust and seldom did they acknowledge anyone who wasn’t part of the Ton.
But during the Victorian period, industrialization allowed for the emergence of a new upper class: the wealthy common man who sought to emulate the aristocracy and began to be included in their social circle.
Victorian-set romance novels are very often characterized by heroines who are American heiresses and heroes who are impoverished lords.
In 1860, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, also known as Bertie, went to New York and fell in love with the beauty, confidence, and daring of the American ladies. They were not chaperoned. Before this time, the nobility didn’t engage in entertainment with the common folk. As a matter of fact, his father wouldn’t even let his children have friends among the aristocracy, because they were considered decadent.
In 1863, after Prince Albert died, Bertie and his wife Alix began entertaining the aristocracy. The “fashionable set” became known as the Marlborough House Set, named after the princes’ London residence.
Back in America, the emerging “new money” was butting heads with the old money, such as the Astors. Old money didn’t invite new money into their circles—they were simply too vulgar.
So new money looked abroad for the social standing they so desperately coveted and what would be sweeter revenge than to have a daughter marry a duke or an earl or any peer, and in turn, to become a peeress? Think of Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey.
This American craze had far-reaching effects.
Jenny Jerome married Lord Randolph Churchill, “the brilliant, yet unruly 2nd son of the 7th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.” Their 1st born son would later be known as one of England’s finest statesmen—Winston Churchill.
I find the Victorian era romantic because it provides such a broad canvas upon which to tell a story. Whatever type of setting I need for my characters, I can usually find within the years that Queen Victoria reigned.
For the Lost Lords of Pembrook, the 1850’s worked well because it was a relatively dark era. Slums, poverty, high crime. I was able to give each of the brothers a very different background: one fought in the Crimean War (She Tempts the Duke, Feb. 2012), one became a privateer (Lord of Temptation, October 2012), one was involved in the unsavory elements in the darker parts of London (Lord of Wicked Intentions, May 2013) so their stories contain various elements of the era.
So what is your favorite era to read about?
One lucky poster will receive an autographed copy of the first two books in the Lost Lords of Pembrook series: She Tempts the Duke, Lord of Temptation.
A second lucky poster will receive a print copy of the Christmas Lost Lords of Pembrook novella: “Deck the Halls With Love.”
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