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Author Archives: Diane Gaston

About Diane Gaston

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.

January 31, just a few days ago, was the 418th anniversary of the execution of Guy Fawkes. You know. Guy Fawkes, who has his own Guy Fawkes Day on November 5 each year where folks in the UK celebrate.  But who was he?

Guy Fawkes was one of the zealot Catholic conspirators in 1605 who plotted to blow up Parliament and all the lords attending and King James I, effectively putting an end to the existing government. November 5 was the opening day of Parliament that year and all the important governmental men would be in attendance. Someone snitched, however, and the cellar beneath Parliament was searched. Guy Fawkes, the fellow who was supposed to light the fuse to blow up 36 kegs of gunpowder, was discovered, arrested, tortured sufficiently that he ratted on the co-conspirators and told all about the plot.

The BBC website has some neat stuff about Guy Fawkes and the celebration of his Day, not so much about his execution.

Did you know that one of the reasons what is known as the Gunpowder Plot did not succeed was because of the Plague?

Well, it seems that Parliament was originally supposed to open October 5, but was postponed a month to make certain the Plague was gone from London. By delaying a month, more conspirators became involved in the plot, increasing the chance that somebody would snitch. What’s more, the gunpowder, sitting around all that time, separated into it various compounds and would have merely fizzled had Guy lit the fuse.

Now if he’d lit that fuse on Oct 5….Read about how history would have been changed for want of a few plague germs.

Guy Fawkes was the last of the conspirators to be executed. On January 31, 1606, Fawkes and three others were dragged from the Tower of London and taken to the Old Palace Yard at Westminster, opposite the building they wanted to destroy. After the three others were hanged and quartered, it was Fawkes turn. He was so weakened by torture that he needed assistance to climb the ladder to the noose. Rather than be hanged properly, though, he either fell or jumped, breaking his neck. Nevertheless, his body was quartered and his body parts were displayed throughout the kingdom as a warning to future would-be traitors.

Every year since November 5 has been Guy Fawkes day. By the Regency boys would dress up an effigy of Guy Fawkes holding a lantern and matches. They’d beg for money, calling out, “Remember Guy Fawkes!” At night bonfires would be lit and the effigies would be tossed in the fire. This tradition continues.

Do you like books or films that present an alternative history, like what would have happened if, say, Hitler won WWII? Or if there hadn’t been a plague in 1605 and the gunpowder would have ignited?



That’s the title of the Christmas anthology with my novella, The Major’s Christmas Return, still on sale so hurry and order your copy now!

The Major’s Christmas Return tells of the reunion of Nash and Caroline who, because of an illness, are unwittingly trapped in their friends’ country house with only a few young servants, orphans who’d never experienced a proper Christmas. As Nash and Caroline contrive to give the orphan servants the Christmas they deserve, they discover the love and passion they’d lost years before — when Nash left Caroline at the altar.

Through Nash and Caroline I was able to show several Christmas traditions that would have been followed in the Regency. Here they are!

House decoration

No Christmas trees during the Regency, but evergreens were gathered and the house was decorated with them.

Yule log.

A yule log was a large log brought in on Christmas eve and kept burning in the fireplace during the Christmas season. Before it was lit everyone made wishes for the new year.

Christmas Candle

A large candle was also lit on Christmas eve. If it went out before Christmas day, it was very bad luck.

Plum Pudding

On Stir-up Sunday, at the beginning of Advent, the pudding was mixed and steamed and hung up to age for Christmas dinner.


Wassailing usually meant a group of people going from house to house singing Christmas carols and being rewarded with wassail, a spiced ale or cider. Nash and Caroline devise their own version in the house.

Mince pies

The traditional Christmas dinner dessert


No Regency Christmas novella would be complete without the mistletoe or kissing bough. That’s how Nash and Caroline rediscover their love for each other!


Here’s wishing all of you a very happy holiday. What holiday traditions are your favorites?


The leaves are just starting to turn here in Virginia and soon we’ll see their beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges. Last week still felt like summer, but now the days are cool and brisk. It’s finally feeling like autumn. 


Here, again, is my Regency homage to autumn, because the season and the poem are so beautiful. 

On 19 September 1819, John Keats took an evening walk along the River Itchen near Winchester and was inspired to write one of the most perfect poems in the English language:

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

The poem was included in volume of Keats’ works printed in 1820 to better reviews than his earlier works. A year later, Keats died.

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When Queen Elizabeth II gave royal assent to the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act it meant that both sons and daughters would have an equal right to inherit the royal crown. Until then daughters could inherit only if the monarch had no sons. This was a big royal step to equality, but what of the non-royal titles?

Our basic knowledge of history (from school, private study, or extensive reading of historical novels) has gotten ourselves used to the idea that titles and/or property are always inherited by the oldest male heir; if not the oldest living son, then the oldest, closest male heir. We think of Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, for example.

This might have been the most common type of aristocratic inheritance in the UK, but it was not the only one. There were titles and property that women could inherit, even as far back as the 1300s.

It all depended upon how the title was created. (Isobel explained it very well in her blog post, A Duchess in Her Own Right). Peerages that daughters could inherit were more typically Scottish, but there were English ones as well. Most of these titles were baronesses, but there were also viscountesses, marchionesses, and countesses. There were even Duchesses. The 1st Duke of Marlborough’s title passed to his daughter.

Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough

Peeresses who inherited titles in their own right could not sit in the House of Lords, though. That did not change until 1948.

The monarch could also create peeresses in their own right. George IV created three: Joan Canning, 1st Viscountess Canning; Catherine Fitzgerald, 1st Baroness FitzGerald and Vesey; Charlotte Strutt, 1st Baroness Rayleigh. The King or Queen could also create life peerages which ended upon the death of the title holder.

In my latest book, The Lady Behind the Masquerade, Kitty inherited the title Baroness Walsingham, because the villain, Turstin, had faked his own death and the title fell to her, having been written that way at the time of the title’s creation which could have been in the 1300s. It was unusual, but it could happen. Can you think of other Regencies or Historicals where the woman bore a title in her own right?

Would you like to win a copy of The Lady Behind the Masquerade? I’ll be giving away both The Lady Behind the Masquerade and Secretly Bound to the Marquess in Isn’t It Romantic Book Club’s Fall into a Book September 22 and 23. Join Isn’t It Romantic Book Club on Facebook and fall into 300 books!

 I am thrilled to announce that I have a new release coming this month! The Lady Behind the Masquerade will be released in paperback and ebook on July 25.


Here’s the backcover blurb:


The ton’s newest member
Is not all she seems…

Diplomat Marcus Wolfdon can’t forget the alluring woman he met in Paris, the passionate night they shared or that she stole his money and disappeared! A year later, Wolf meets Juliana again in Brighton, seemingly a member of the ton. She begs him to keep their former liaison secret, and the emotion in her eyes compels him to agree. Desire still flares between them, but first Wolf must uncover the lady behind the masquerade.

From Harlequin Historical: Your romantic escape to the past.


The Lady Behind the Masquerade is Book 2 in A Family of Scandals series. Marcus Wolfdon, “Wolf” to his friends and family, is the younger brother of Eliza, now the Marquess of Hale, and heir to their father’s baronetcy. Rather than deal with his parents’ drama, Wolf has dedicated himself to a diplomatic career, lately in Paris, where he has his unforgettable encounter with Juliana. His father’s near-fatal illness brings him back to England where he must face his family obligations–and Juliana, who now is not an alluring French woman, but a lovely lady, cousin to Wolf’s friend’s mother. Never sure precisely what Juliana’s truth is, he cannot resist both loving her and protecting her but never trusting her.

Be on the lookout for the reviews and read and excerpt.

And you can preorder now!

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