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Category: Diane Gaston

Today is Australia Day! Or, if you are in Australia, then perhaps yesterday was Australia Day. This national holiday is marked by community festivities, family get-togethers, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new citizens. Like our Fourth of July.

Australia, of course, had a much different beginning.

In the 1700s Great Britain had been using the American colonies as penal colonies, but the War of Independence put a stop to that. In need of a new land to which they might send convicts, Great Britain decided on what was then called New South Wales, one of the lands Captain Cook had explored. Cook recommended it for colonization.

The_First_Fleet_entering_Port_Jackson,_January_26,_1788,_drawn_1888_A9333001hThe First Fleet left England on May 13, 1787. It consisted of 11 ships, including two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports. More than 1,000 convicts were transported, but on board all those ships were also over 400 others: ships crews, marines, officials and passengers, and wives and children of all of them.

The voyage was harrowing, marred by extreme heat, rain, water rationing, and an astonishing number of vermin infestations. The voyage took over 250 days to complete. Remarkably, only 48 people died.

View_of_Botany_BayThe fleet first attempted landing in Botany Bay, but it was found to be more unsuitable than Captain Cook had led them to believe. Captain Arthur Phillip, the man commissioned to found the penal colony, explored the coast and discovered a better harbor and a better place to anchor, which he named Sydney Cove. On January 26, 1788, Phillip weighed anchor at Sydney Cove, marking the official beginning of the colony.

800px-Thomas_Watling_-_A_Direct_North_General_View_of_Sydney_Cove,_1794The first years of the settlement were difficult ones. The soil was poor, the climate unfamiliar and the many of the convicts knew nothing of farming. The marines were poorly led and less than competent, but Phillip eventually appointed convicts to oversee matters. Eventually, the penal colony prospered.

1808 was the first recorded celebration marking the anniversary of the First Fleet landing. The colonists began to feel a sense of pride and patriotism and marked the anniversary with “drinking and merriment” according to Historian Manning Clarke.

1818 marked the first official celebration of the anniversary. That puts it right in “our” time period!

Have you read any Regencies that involved the Australian penal colonies? I remember one where the heroine’s brother and father were transported and, in the end, the hero becomes the colony’s governor so she can search for them. Can’t remember the title, though. Anyone remember that one?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change
–Charles Darwin, English biologist (1809 – 1882)

1810 v3 Ackermann's Fashion Plate 38 - Evening or Full DressWe may not be the blog with the strongest following. We may not even be the most intelligent (given our lapses into the ridiculous from time to time), but The Risky Regencies know when it is time for a change.

Megan and Myretta leaving was the impetus for us to take a good look at ourselves. How should we proceed? we asked ourselves. We also asked you, our readers and the feedback you gave us was very helpful. One thing was very clear, we didn’t want to end the blog.

Another thing that was clear was, we needed change. For us “old” Riskies it was getting more and more difficult to post every week and each of us began to miss days, especially when life became too hectic. Keira, one of our readers, commented that sometimes it seemed like we were simply “phoning posts in.” She was right, at least pertaining to me. I did phone it in a few times. Sometimes I was at a loss as to what to post. Sometimes I was just swamped by other demands on my time.

0dcf45dd05ed14acc4016c8c77af293c-1One more thing was clear. Our “new” Riskies, Gail, Sandra, and Susanna, have rejuvenated the blog. Their posts have been intelligent, informative, and enjoyable. It stood to reason, then, that one change we should make should be to add new Riskies.

We have three new Riskies!

2665950Isobel Carr, who has been a Risky Regencies guest several times, is an expert in historical fashions as well as a terrific author of Georgian romance (close enough to Regency!) Her League of Second Sons series received wonderful reviews.

Rose_Lerner_200x300Rose Lerner was our guest very recently and has been a guest twice before and is the author of one of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014, which was also one of Susanna’s favorites. Amanda listed Rose’s In For A Penny as a favorite in 2010.

aboutphotoMary Blayney is our third new Risky. Mary has recently re-released her traditional Regency Braedon Family series, a series I loved. And there is always her Pennistan series, longer books written with the same heart. Mary also is one of the authors included in the annual J.D. Robb anthology, writing the sole historical novella in each (and always with a magic coin). Mary is a dear friend of mine and I’m so happy to have her join the Risky Regencies.

Isobel, Rose, and Mary will do us very proud.

There are more changes, too. We’re adopting a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule and we are each going to be blogging once a month.

We are confident these changes will infuse new energy into the blog! What do you think? Tell us what you’d like to see from us, too. The changes start today!

(P.S. I forgot to mention that we are going to have at least one guest per month, on the fourth Wednesday of each month and another guest on those months that have 5th days.)


Last night I finished the Work-in-Progress, Book 2 in the Scandalous Summerfields series, sent it off and now will await my editor’s feedback on it. Color me relieved!

When writing my books, I always need to stop and research period detail. Sometimes the research plays a big part in the books. Other times it is just a small piece that I want to get right.

Like, what happens when a minor character is unjustly sent to prison? How might his friends get him out?

Paul-Charles_Chocarne-Moreau_Opportunity_makes_the_thief_1896This character was unjustly convicted of theft and the punishment, I’d learned, was hanging. During the Regency, there were as many as 200 offenses punishable by hanging, even what we would consider minor ones, like shoplifting.

That did not mean every criminal offender was hanged. In reality only about 40% were.

One of the ways the offenders avoided hanging was to plead “benefit of clergy,” a once in a lifetime plea, which basically could be done by anyone who could read. They would, then, be incarcerated for a year. Other means to avoid hanging were convictions to lesser crimes, nullification of the offense, or “pious perjury,” meaning devaluing goods stolen to a value covered by a non-capital punishment.

Black-eyed_Sue_and_Sweet_Poll_of_Plymouth_taking_leave_of_their_lovers_who_are_going_to_Botany_BayAnother much used way of avoiding hanging was transportation. During the Regency, this meant transportation to Australia and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). I wrote about the First Fleet a little while ago.

Several avoided hanging by the use of pardons, which were accomplished by letters petitioning the court. In pardons, the guilt or innocence of the convicted person was rarely the issue. The pardon was based on character evidence provided by the petitioner about the offender. Ironically, it mattered less how closely the petitioner knew the offender or even if he knew the offender at all. What mattered more was how influential the petitioner was. Officials liked knowing that men of influence and prestige were beholding to them. This option fit right in with my story.

What interesting research tidbit have you come across lately?

Book 1 of the Scandalous Summerfields series, Bound By Duty, will appear in bookstores March 17!

Read an excerpt. Enter my contest!

juliaWelcome our guest today–Julia Justiss who is here to talk about her new release, The Rake To Rescue Her (Harlequin Historical, March 2015). Julia is giving away one copy of The Rake To Rescue Her to one lucky commenter, chosen at random.
See what RT Book Reviews’ Maria Ferrer has to say about The Rake To Rescue Her:

The Ransleigh Rogues return with a passionate and poignant tale of betrayal, revenge, sexual healing and second chances. This is another keeper with strong characters and authentic settings.


When Alastair Ransleigh sees Diana, Duchess of Graveston, for the first time since she jilted him, he makes her a shockingly insulting offer…the chance to become his mistress.  And even more shockingly, she accepts!

But the widowed duchess is nothing like the bold, passionate girl Alastair once loved.  Years of suffering at the hands of a cruel husband have taken their toll.  And as Alastair resolves to save Diana from the damage of the past, their chance meeting turns feels of revenge to thoughts of rescue…

Thanks to Diane and the other Riskies for hosting me today!

My March release, Book Three of the Ransleigh Rogues, is the story of Alastair, the poet and dreamer whose world is shattered when Diana, the woman he loves, jilts him in a humiliatingly public fashion to marry a man of high rank.  When he meets her again by chance eight years later, now widowed and on the run, he is stunned, then curious, then angry that the girl who once vowed to love him forever seems to be able to treat him with so little emotion, when he is torn, attracted, and seething. While he doesn’t exactly seek revenge when she offers to do what she can to make it up to him—he really wants to try to purge her from his heart and mind once and for all—the idea of making her feel something, after she has put him through every extreme of emotion, is certainly one of his chief motivations.

222808A revenge sub-theme figures in another one of my favorite all-time romances, Reforming Lord Ragsdale by the stellar Carla Kelly.  Her heroine is an indentured Irish servant, detested and scorned by her English masters, whom the dissolute Lord Ragsdale rescues from a very bad situation.  Initially he is inclined to treat her just a tad less poorly than her previous master—his father was murdered by Irish rebels, and he has every reason to hate the Irish.  But he is a deeply flawed man himself, which Emma sees, and gradually, by fits and starts, the two begin to heal each other.

So, too, do Alastair and Diana.  Although Alastair initially rejects Diana’s explanation for why she jilted him as unbelievable, as he slowly puts together the bits and pieces he ekes out of her about what her life with the duke was like, he begins to realize her improbable story was true and appreciate the heroism, and suffering, she endured to protect those she loved.  As he works to bring back to life the girl he once loved and protect her from present danger, she rekindles once again the deep love he’s suppressed for so many years.

Are there any revenge-to-love stories that touched your heart?  Is this a theme that you like to read about? One commenter will win a copy of Alastair and Diana’s book, The Rake To Rescue Her.

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