One of my favorite parts of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference is that the Beau Monde chapter of RWA holds their annual conference the Wednesday before. I try always to attend. It is a great chance to see old friends and to hear great presentations on my favorite topics–anything about the Regency era!
This years conference keynote speaker was Miranda Neville, who honored her recently deceased father in her speech. Her father nurtured Miranda’s interest in history and took her and her sister to museums throughout Europe as a result. If that wasn’t enough to envy, she also had an idyllic childhood on a farm in Wiltshire and went on to work for Sotheby’s, writing catalogues of rare books and original letters and manuscripts. This meant she was paid to read the personal correspondence of historical figures, including those of “our” time period. Needless to say, Miranda likes to get the history correct in her books!
Our Risky Janet Mullany presented a workshop on servants, but I won’t say much about that, because she may be telling you herself. She told us about Black servants who were in England for many years. She mentioned one of the duties of footmen was to deliver messages for the lords and ladies for whom they worked. I thought it a clever fact to use in a future story that the footmen might take hours to deliver such messages, even though the distances might be nor more that a mile away.
Another Risky who presented a workshop was Isobel Carr, who spoke about the fabrics of the time period, about the different weaves of fabrics and the different materials from which they were made. Isobel has so much expertise to share on this topic, it is much too extensive for me to repeat. One interesting fact, though. We all believed that Scottish clans each had their own tartans. I imagined the clans rushing into battle at Culloden each wearing their clan’s plaids. It turns out that, in the late 18th century, a man named William Wilsons published a pattern book in which he assigned clan names to different tartans. The clans themselves had nothing to do with it.
Risky friend Louisa Cornell talked about The Musical Education of a Regency Young Lady. I’ve heard Louisa speak on this topic before and I was so happy to hear Louisa, formerly a professional opera singer, sing some of the examples. She showed us what (and how) a sweet young might sing at a recital, what a talented young lady might sing, and what selections would be scandalous for a young lady to sing. Turns out, singing scandalous songs was acceptable in society.
Jackie Horne spoke about The Material Culture of Childhood and showed how the different cultural views on childhood were reflected in their toys, furniture, and clothing. Before 1750, children were rushed to adulthood, so their furniture, clothing, etc. reflected that. 1750 to 1830 was the era of the Natural Child, the belief that childhood was a special time requiring more freedom of movement than children had experienced previously. One interesting fact Jackie told us. Baby carriages were not invented until 1830, so don’t have your Regency characters pushing one!
Cheryl Bolen shared tons of information on the interiors of Regency houses, both in Town and in the country. She showed us slide after slide of wonderful Regency interiors, including some beautiful Adams rooms. You can see these images on her Pinterest Boards. An interesting fact–her floorplan of a typical Regency town house showed that the master’s bedroom was on the ground floor behind the dining room.
The Beau Monde was honored to have Jennifer Kloester, author of the recent acclaimed biography of Georgette Heyer. Ms. Kloester gave us a lovely picture of Heyer, including many of the insider tidbits she’d learned doing her research. She showed us a photograph of Heyer in her 20s by a then famous photographer. She looked like a 13 year old. Another photo the next year was more like the one on this book cover.
I missed the last workshop, because I needed to get ready for RWA’s huge Literacy Book Signing, but I heard it was wonderful, too. It was about Regency dance and was intriguingly titled Rethinking the Regency Ballroom with special guest Susan de Guardiola.
Miss Guardiola also led us in dance later at the evening soiree, where I joined other Beau Monde members, many in period costume, dancing the dances of the Regency. My dance partner was Joanne Grant, Senior Executive Editor at Harlequin UK. She and I have danced at previous soirees and it was a delight to have her attend this year’s and dance with me again!
It was a wonderful Beau Monde conference. Special thanks to Janna MacGregor, the coordinator of the conference. She did a marvelous job! And has become a great friend of mine, as well!
What topics would you like to hear presented at a Beau Monde conference? I’ll pass on your ideas!
1800—Allan Pendale, lawyer and the youngest son of the Earl of Frensham, is bound by ship for the West Indies, to impart the news to his estranged father that his mother has died. But he also has another mission—to find out the truth of his origins.
Miss Clarissa Onslowe is also on board, traveling to take up the role of governess to the daughter of the wealthy planter Mr. Lemarchand. There is nothing to keep her in England. An indiscretion five years before led to her reputation being ruined; her abolitionist family has disowned her and no gentleman would marry her now. But now she seeks redemption with her family by revealing the truth about the miserable lives of the slaves who work on the sugar plantations.
Clarissa’s previous encounter with love has left her aroused and restless, and Allan is a man for whom lust is a daily pastime; thrown together belowdecks during the long sea voyage, they embark on a sensual odyssey where no desire is left untested. But if they thought their exploration and ecstasy could not be bettered, then there are more pleasures to be taken and boundaries to be broken at their island destination—where “March” Lemarchand, sugar king and master of seduction, awaits them both…
“A marvel of sex, smarts, and wit” — Pam Rosenthal/Molly Weatherfield
“Unabashedly wicked…titillating, witty, and very, very sexy” — Colette Gale
Buy at: Amazon
Janet Mullany grew up in England and has worked as an archaeologist, performing arts administrator, classical music radio announcer, bookseller, and editor, and unexpectedly became a writer over a decade ago. She speaks on such diverse topics as Georgian servants, the English abolitionist movement, the black and Jewish populations of Regency London, how to incorporate humor into romance, and how to write hot historicals. She lives outside Washington, DC where she reads voraciously and teaches a cat manners.
For a complete listing of titles offered in this sale, please visit the Risky Regencies 99 Cent Sale Page.
I’m off to the 2012 Love of Writing Conference today so I must count pairs of underwear and remember to pack my toothbrush. Having turned my office inside out and upside down I found one of the many cables I own that enable a mac to talk to a projector, so that’s one big relief. Whew.
So here’s an excerpt from Dedication on sale now! Now! for Kindle, Nook, and at LooseId. When I first wrote the book nearly everyone commented that there was a hole at the end. So there was. The hero Adam is challenged to a duel by the heroine’s brother, because, tsk tsk, she’s pregnant. So naturally after the duel he has to do the honorable thing…
The next morning Fabienne sat at her writing desk, a tisane at her elbow. She could not stomach coffee, formerly one of the great sensual pleasures of her life, and regarded both the blank page and the cooling cup of herbal tea with distaste. She sharpened her pen again to delay writing. Her mind was dull and sleepy. Even so simple a task as writing to a friend to borrow half a dozen footmen for her salon seemed beyond her. So she had sat, indecisive and nervous, searching for words, the first time she had written to Mrs. Ravenwood.Mrs. Ravenwood. She grimaced. What a train of events she had set in motion.The sound of an opening door and male voices came from downstairs—Ippolite, her footman, and another voice that despite her anger and resentment caused a familiar sizzle of excitement.She laid her hand on her belly. “Your papa is here, and for your sake, I shall remain calm.”Sure enough, her footman scratched at the door. “Mr. Ashworth, ma’am.”Before she could speak, Adam had pushed past him, opening the door. She noticed that his hat and gloves were in the footman’s hands, suggesting that Adam’s visit was to be of some duration, before the door was firmly closed in the servant’s face.“I trust I’m not interrupting you,” he said. “I’ve come to discuss our wedding.”“Our wedding?”“Yes.” He wandered over to her desk and drummed his fingers on the wooden surface. She could feel his warmth as he leaned against her chair. “To whom are you writing?”“It is none of your business.”“If there’s nothing written, it can be no one’s business, unless you use an invisible ink. I wonder that I ask, but I’m not myself. I lost a fair amount of blood yesterday, and my sister and daughter drive me mad fussing over me.”“Sit down, Adam, and tell me what you want.”“Very well.” He sat and reached into his coat, clumsily, for he used his left hand, and she wondered, with a pang of sympathy, if his injury pained him. He handed her a document. “I had this drawn up. It states that I make no claim on your fortune when we marry, for you are a French citizen and subject to French law, under which a married woman controls her money.”“When we marry? Should that not be if we marry?” She laid the document aside. “A fine gesture, Adam, but I doubt it would stand up in court.”He glared at her. “Then you shall have to trust my word in the matter of your finances. As unpleasant a prospect as it may be, yes, Fabienne, you shall marry me, by God. It is a question of honor. My honor. I am damned if our child shall be born without my name, and I let your brother skewer me like a stuck pig yesterday for that reason. My ballocks ache still from his defense of the Argonac family name. Pray do not argue. We marry, and that’s an end to it.” He flung another document onto her lap.“A special license,” she said.“This afternoon.”“What?”“I’m in a hurry. Surely you don’t need more than a couple of hours to get ready. Put a bonnet on and we’ll be on our way. Ippolite will stand as witness. I gather you no longer adhere to the Catholic faith? Good.”“I’m not even dressed!”“Beg your pardon, ma’am. I can’t always tell with ladies’ fashions as they are.” He leaned back, stretched out his legs, and crossed his feet at the ankles. He gave her an appreciative, masculine look, gaze sliding from her casually tied-back hair—she had washed it that morning, and it fell in drying tendrils around her face—to her loose gown and embroidered Indian slippers.“Oh, you…” she said, torn between a sudden fierce urge to fling herself onto his lap or to rail at his officiousness.“I love you,” he said. “I have reason to believe you love me too. Come, Fabienne, it’s the right thing to do. Don’t fight me.” He reached for her hand and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “You have nothing to fear from me.”“I can’t possibly go to the country. I have my salon next week.” But she let her hand lie under his.“Of course. You’ll come to my house later. Whenever you wish.”“I’m not sure I wish to live with you,” she said, as much to provoke him as anything else.“I should be most happy to provide conjugal visits at your pleasure, but wouldn’t you prefer to lie-in in the country? It’s far healthier, and we have an excellent doctor nearby.”“So I tell her, Mr. Ashworth.” Susan bumped the door open with her hip. She laid a tray of tea things on the low table in the room. “I don’t hold with cows and so on, but I’ll go to the country if I must. Mr. Argonac says you’re to drink tea, Mr. Ashworth, and keep your strength up. Anything more, ma’am?”Fabienne shook her head, and Susan left. “I am surrounded by conspirators.”“Conspirators who love you.” Another amorous glance, lingering on her breasts.She frowned and wrapped her shawl more closely around herself.“You’re looking very well,” Adam continued as he poured tea. “Do you quicken yet?”“No,” she lied.“Mags was a glory when she was pregnant. Like a lovely ripe plum. And amorous. Good heavens, she was insatiable.” He smiled fondly. “Asleep over her sewing half the afternoon and a raging succubus after dinner.”“How charming. I feel no amorous urges at all,” Fabienne said, very aware of the slow stroke of his thumb on her knuckles. “Besides, my doctor advises me that such activities are injurious to the child.”He blinked at that barefaced lie—she had not yet even consulted a physician—and laughed aloud. “More fool him.”She attempted to move her hand from beneath his and succeeded only in drawing his hand closer to her belly where the child fluttered and quivered deep inside her. She was fairly sure he could not feel anything through her dressing gown and shift, but he gave a slow smile as their hands came to rest in the warmth of her lap.“No amorous urges?”“None.”He leaned forward and kissed her forehead, where a drying curl escaped the ribbon she had tied around her hair. “You’re very beautiful. You looked tired before, but now your hair is delicious—is that sandalwood?—and your skin glows.”“I feel well enough.”His lips brushed hers, lingered at the corner of her mouth. “Get dressed. I want to marry you. I have a very nervous clergyman waiting for us, drinking all the claret at my house. We need to get there before he becomes insensible.”Their joined hands pressed between her thighs, and she couldn’t help a small gasp of excitement escaping her lips.
“But of course, I forget. No amorous urges.” He reached for his teacup and drained it. “Come, madam. I’ll help you dress.”
Question for you. Do you think dressing can be as sexy as undressing? Why?