Tag Archive | Regency romance

A Short History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has always been celebrated with candy, flowers and greeting cards, some heartfelt and others sappy, right? ??

Well, no…not exactly.

There really was a St. Valentine…at least a dozen or so of them, in fact, depending on whether one consults the lists of martyrs of the Roman Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox Church. The name “Valentine” (or “Valentinus”) is from the Latin word, valens, meaning “strong.”

The simple feast (or Commemoration) of St. Valentine in the Roman Martyrology, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, has traditionally been February 14th, reportedly the date in the year 273 when Bishop Valentine of the Diocese of Terni (in what is now Italy), was imprisoned and killed in Rome.

The truth behind the legends of this particular St. Valentine are murky, to say the least. In 3rd century Rome, Emperor Claudius II believed that young men who were single, without the encumbrances of wives or children, were more dedicated, so he forbade his young soldiers from marrying. Bishop Valentine defied this decree and continued to perform marriages, a stand that cost him his life.

The first recorded connection of St. Valentine to the concept of “romantic love” was in the poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules, in 1382, which was written to celebrate the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, who were married when each was but 15 years old. (Without doing any further research, methinks that might have been an arranged marriage.)

Later writers such as John Donne and Shakespeare (in “Hamlet”) also mention Valentine’s Day. By 1797, a British publisher printed The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, with a number of suggested verses for young lovers who felt they were not capable of composing their own. By the early 1800’s, the Regency period in England, factory-produced paper valentines became popular, with fancy ones adorned with real cloth lace and ribbons for those who could afford them. It was also common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange handwritten notes and small tokens of affection.

Real lace became paper lace by the mid-1800’s. In the United States, Esther Howland received an English valentine from one of her father’s business associates. Since her father operated a book and stationery store, Esther decided to create and mass produce valentines in the late 1840’s, using decorations imported from England, and is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”

Hand-written valentines thus led to greeting cards, which paved the way for Valentine’s Day to become the commercialized, multi-billion-dollar industry it is today. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. Paper cards, e-cards, flowers, chocolates, and even diamonds are now necessary accoutrements each February 14th to go along with those three little words that never seem to go out of style: “I love you.”

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If you enjoy reading traditional Regency romance, please check out my novella, An Arranged Valentine, available from e-book stores everywhere. Here’s a bit about it:

An Arranged Valentine - revised 1-31-2016

In the coldest days of February, can St. Valentine generate enough heat to melt these two strangers’ hearts into one?

“…a perfectly lovely afternoon read.”

“This is a wonderful little gem of a story, heartfelt and touching.”

“Of course, the over riding situation is one where it suits both parties to be arranged.”

“An Arranged Valentine” is a traditional Regency romance novella told in 10 short chapters.

Miss Penelope Braxton has never met either sensible George Harburton or his more dashing younger brother, Henry, but she agrees to grant her dying father peace of mind by considering marriage to one of them.

The advantage of the match for the brothers is evident in the form of Miss Braxton’s substantial dowry. However, her money takes second place when the brothers realize the extent of Penelope’s courage, wit, and devotion.

Henry doesn’t plan to give up his philandering to romance Penelope. George’s days are filled with the running of the family estate and he has never put aside his duties long enough to contemplate marriage. When one of the gentlemen changes his ways, will he be able to compose the perfect poetry to win Penelope’s heart?

An Arranged Valentine can be found through your favorite e-book retailer by clicking on this Books2Read link:

http://books2read.com/u/bw8KoY

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The Soldier’s Woman, Regency romance from author Kelly Lyonns

The Soldier’s Womanmediakit_bookcover_thesoldierswoman

by Kelly Lyonns

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GENRE: Historical Romance – Regency

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BLURB:

It is 1810 somewhere in the chaos of war-ravaged Napoleonic Portugal. Miss Charlotte Everslea, dedicated member of an ancient secretive Guild and skilled paranormal artefacts hunter, has found herself trapped behind enemy lines. Colonel Maximillian Bladewood is used to giving orders and having them obeyed, both on and off the battlefield. But the petite golden-haired hoyden, to whose accidental intervention he owes his life, challenges both his authority and his sanity. Their cross-purposed journey will reach a crossroad where one or both of them  will need to compromise.

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EXCERPT:   When Charlotte met Maxmillian

He was still holding her, and she wasn’t quite sure what to do next. There was a pause as she felt him lean back a little, probably trying to catch a glimpse of her face. It was extremely silly, but despite everything she had already faced, she couldn’t look him in the eye, couldn’t bear him seeing the red puffy proof of her crying.

“I wish I had a handkerchief to offer.” The deep quiet voice above her head paused, “Sadly, mine are with my dress uniform in a supply wagon, somewhere on the other side of this battlefield I should think.”

She was grateful for his attempt to invoke the humour and even a little civility to their situation.

“I most sincerely apologise, Sir.” Heavens above, her voice came out as a wavering snuffle. She could absolutely not look up.

He neither moved nor answered for some long moments. She felt a little trill of something like panic building in her chest. When he did speak, the words were all gentleness, despite the dust roughened rasp.

“It is of no consequence Madam. I think that we find ourselves in an unusual situation.” He cleared his throat before adding quietly, “I have seen strong men break down and weep after a battle. There is no shame in this.”

The little alarm that had been building evaporated. She still stood inside his arms. He had made no attempt to release her, but then neither had she made any sign that she wished it. Suddenly realising she needed to do exactly that, she stiffened in his arms and gave the barest push with her hands. Was it her imagination, or was there a moment of hesitation before he let her go?

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:mediakit_authorphoto_thesoldierswoman

After earning a living as a freelance environmental scientist, writer and editor, Kelly Lyonns has evolved into a creative writer. She cohabitates with three cats, two children and a husband in a house so packed with characters, even the termites live next door. Burning questions about ecological sustainability and how to tie a Regency bodice, keep her on the internet deep into the night.

She enjoys tea, meditating, Jane Austen, solar punk, science fiction, sculpting and science. She frequently succumbs to the need to write. She rarely succumbs to the need to vacuum.

Connect with Kelly at:

Website: http://kalyonnswrites.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyLyonnsAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellylyonns

 

“Holiday Ever After,” a romance short story anthology from LARA!

winter-holidays-romance-from-los-angeles-romance-authors

I’m thrilled that my sensual Regency short story, “Bed of Sweet Surrender,” was chosen to be included in this amazing new collection of contemporary, historical and paranormal holiday romances from LARA – the Los Angeles Romance Authors. All proceeds benefit the chapter, so please download your copy today from the buy links below and find some wonderful new stories (and maybe some “new-to-you” authors, as well!) to get you in the mood…for the holidays, that is!

Amazon.com    B&N.com   Kobo.com   iTunes.Apple.com

EXCERPT from “Bed of Sweet Surrender”:

By the middle of the carol, when the Wise Men came from country far, John wondered where Miss Jennings had disappeared to. Standing at the rear of the group assembled around the pianoforte, he slipped away and went to look for her. His plan to see his fiancée often and convince her of his affections had so far been less than successful.

He paused at the open door to the dining room and found her there, seated alone, with no servant in sight. For once, she looked relaxed, her eyes closed as she put the last bite of a piece of gingerbread in her mouth, then licked the crumbs from her fingertips and sighed in pleasure, savouring the taste. Her honey-blonde hair shone in the candlelight, making her an entrancing sight to behold.

For a moment, he forgot to breathe. “Miss Jennings,” he found his voice at last, even if it came out barely a whisper.

Her blue eyes flew open and she gasped, bolting upright in her chair. “Mr. Ashton, I’m sorry, I—”

“Don’t.” He held up his hand to stall her as he advanced into the room. “You have no reason to apologize. Once we’re married, if you wish to eat gingerbread every day of the year, you may do so.”

She stood then with a sway and clung to the table for support. “I fear the wine has gone straight to my head, sir.” He covered the distance between them in seconds and pulled her against him, afraid she might fall if he did not. She turned her face up to his, looking startled.

Whether it was the two cups of the punch he’d had or simply the opportunity, he would never know, but he would kiss her now or die in the attempt.

 

 

All About April – Fools and Showers

Thanks to the “Jane Austen’s London” blog for this wonderful drawing from Regency satirical illustrator Cruickshank! 🙂

Jane Austen's London

April showers

These days April is famous for its showers and its fools, and I love this illustration by Cruickshank showing two ladies caught out in the rain while everyone else is either sheltering under an archway or buying a new umbrella from J. Gingham, Umbrella Depot. I’m not sure what the three lads are doing – possibly they are up to some kind of April Fool’s Day prank. As always with these tiny Cruickshank drawings the fun is in the details – behind the pieman with his basket is a shower bath standing outside T. Brass, Ironmonger. And, of course, the scene is set in St Swithin’s Lane. There is a real lane of that name in London, running between Cannon Street and Lombard Street in the City. St Swithin’s Day is July 15th, but the connection with rain was obviously too much for the artist to ignore.

St Swithun’s day…

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Christmas traditions in the time of Jane Austen

Regency Christmas dinner complete with pudding

The Regency period of English history was technically only the years 1811-1820, but practically ran the adult life of King George IV, from the late 1700’s through to 1830, and is sometimes referred to today known as the “long Regency.” Christmas in those days was most definitely not the commercial holiday we celebrate today. There was no mad rush to shop for the latest gadgets, no stockings hung by the fire with care, and certainly no white-bearded gentleman with a sleigh and reindeer flying through the night skies.

Attending church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day was a must for the English in Regency times, although only a few of the carols we sing now would have been sung in church then as hymns, such as The First Nowell.(Yes, that spelling is the correct one!)

Instead of everyone looking forward to just December 24th or the 25th, a Regency Christmas was a much longer celebration of dancing and dining spread out over the period of ‘Christmastide,’ from Christmas Eve to January 6th, Twelfth Night. (Hence, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’)

Preparations, however, began long before December 24th. ‘Stir-up Sunday,’ the Sunday before Advent, marked the unofficial start to the Christmas Season, so-called because of the traditional church service held that day, but also becoming the day that Christmas puddings and cakes were prepared, in order to allow enough time for them to ‘mature’ (which called for regular doses of brandy!)

Jane AustenChristmas was a time to reflect upon one’s religious faith and to enjoy the companionship of friends and family. Jane Austen mentions Christmas in each of her six major novels. For instance, in Emma, she wrote, “At Christmas everybody invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.” In addition, the aristocracy and the landed gentry were expected to entertain their tenants and neighbors and show generosity through charitable acts.

During the four-week period from Advent until Epiphany, the upper classes held balls, parties, dinners and other social events, welcoming both family and friends. Since everyone was usually together, it was also a time for courtships and weddings. Even though there was no Santa Claus, December 6th, St. Nicholas’s Day, was marked by the giving of small gifts. There was no exchange of presents on the 25th itself, but giving ‘Christmas Boxes’ of food and gently-used items of clothing and household goods to servants and to charity was the custom on St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, now celebrated as ‘Boxing Day.’

Holly, ivy, evergreen and laurel were brought into the house on Christmas Eve, since it was considered unlucky to bring greenery inside before Christmas. These remained in place until the Epiphany on January 6, when they were taken down and often burned to prevent bad luck for the rest of the year. Indoor decorated trees were rare and found only in a few houses of wealthy families with German connections, where they were a long-standing tradition.

Of course, we can’t forget mistletoe, although the custom was more likely practiced below stairs than above. (The requirement of plucking a berry every time a kiss was stolen beneath the bough was already in place, and once the berries were gone, alas, the kissing was over.)

Christmas Day meant Christmas dinner, with the best a family could afford…turkey, goose (the most traditional), mutton, or venison might be served, and for the rich, the table could be laden with all of these at once. A Christmas dinner would not be deemed complete without the aforementioned pudding. The pudding would be doused with even more brandy and then set aflame, a key theatrical aspect of the holiday celebration.

(For the brave of heart among you, or for those who just enjoy setting their food on fire, some traditional holiday pudding recipes can be found at: http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/a/xmaspud.htm )

Epiphany on January 6th marked the official end of Christmas festivities. It was yet another feast day to mark the coming of the Magi, and as a result was the traditional day to exchange gifts.

Joseph-Grimaldi_1630699cOne final English Christmas tradition that was present in Jane Austen’s time and is still alive today is the Christmas pantomime. The pantomime usually opened on Boxing Day. Joseph Grimaldi, the famous clown who lived from 1779 to 1837, regularly performed in one at Drury Lane Theatre in London, a theatre often visited by characters in Regency romances.