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SM smallI have another guest today! Today it is my pleasure to turn my blog day over to Sarah Mallory, who is here to talk about her latest release, Temptation Of A Governess, out now from Harlequin Historical.

To celebrate the release of the book, Sarah will give away one signed copy of Temptation Of A Governess to one lucky commenter chosen at random.

Here’s Sarah!

9780263248142Tell us about your book.
Temptation Of A Governess is the second in the Infamous Arrandales series and is the story of Diana Grensham, a shy young woman who becomes joint guardian to two young girls along with Alex Arrandale, the new Earl of Davenport. She has to protect the girls’ interests against Alex’s plans to remove them from their home, and in doing so she grows in confidence as she joins in a battle of wills and wits with the earl.

What is risky about your book?
Women during the Regency faced huge risks. Most gently born ladies had no money of their own but were dependent upon husbands or family for support. Reputations, too were very brittle, and while it was accepted (almost expected) that men would take mistresses and have affairs, a woman was required to preserve at least an outward appearance of respectability. Diana has lived her life in the shadows, first as a daughter, then a governess, but to protect her wards she must put herself forward, into the limelight. Anyone who has ever suffered from a lack of self-confidence or shyness will know just how it feels to suddenly be the centre of attention. Diana feels exposed and vulnerable, but by the end of the book she knows she doesn’t want to go back into her shell and she takes the biggest risk of all to achieve her happy ending (I am not telling you any more than that as I don’t want to give the story away!)

Did you come across any interesting research while writing the book?
I had to read up on the life of a governess in Regency England. Of particular interest were the journals & letters of Agnes Porter, edited by Joanna Martin and published as “A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen”. Agnes was a governess to the children and grandchildren of the second Earl of Ilchester from 1784 until 1806, so this was a perfect time period for my story. The accepted view of governesses at that time is rather downtrodden, unhappy women, but Agnes made the most of her situation. There is some evidence that she would have liked to marry, but never had the chance. However, she never complained of her lot and was respected and valued by her employer. She had friends, both men and women, with whom she corresponded regularly and also went to stay with some of them. When she went to London with the family she appears to have had quite a full social life of her own. She would spend the mornings “at our studies” with her charges but in the afternoons and evenings she would go out, taking tea with friends and acquaintances or walking with them. On one occasion she took two of her pupils to her sister’s house, where they were “…entertained with a dance and musick until the gentlemen came up from dinner to tea…”

I also enjoyed researching a little gem of an English manor house which I used as the model for Chantreys, the house Diana and her charges call home. It is the beautiful 17th century Ashdown House as my model (Here’s the link, if you want to have a peep:

You also write as Melinda Hammond. Tell us about those books. 
In the dim and (very) distant past I began writing sweet Regency and Georgian romances as Melinda Hammond. I also use the name when I want to try something a little different, such as dual time novels. I have now published many of my backlist, as well as a couple of short stories, as e-books and plan to expand the list as time goes on.

What is next for you?
The third in the Infamous Arrandales series, The Return of the Runaway, will be published early 2016 and I am currently writing book #4. After that … well, my head is so bursting with more stories that the problem is which one to pick! Watch this space.

Here’s a question for all of you.
Tell me what you like best about Regency stories, is it the history, the manners, or just the excitement of living in another time? I’d love to know!

Diane, here, again. Remember. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Temptation Of A Governess.

 Welcome to the blog debut visitor Sarah Mallory, author of #5 in the Castonbury Park series, “The Illegitimate Montague”!!  Comment for the chance to win a copy…
Castonbury Village
We love to read (and of course to write) about the dukes and duchesses, the great and the good of old England, but for the Castonbury Park series we also took a look “below stairs”, at the people who worked in and around Castonbury Park and many of them would have lived in the village.
The country village of the Regency era was much more self-sufficient than it is today. Local farmers’ wifes produced butter and and eggs, which they would sell at the local market and most households would spin their own yard and knit stockings. A whole community would get together when it was time to kill a pig and everything would be done in one day, cutting up the meat, curing it and making the sausages etc. This was not the consumer society we know, but some things had to be brought in and fashion was beginning to make its mark.
For the Illegitimate Montague my heroine, Amber Hall is a clothier with a warehouse/shop in Castonbury and I have no doubt that she purchased at least some of her cloth from some of the many wholesale drapers in Manchester, which was only about 30 miles away.
There were no dress shops as such in the Regency: those wanting new clothes would buy their cloth from a clothier, or if they lived in London they would have access to more specialised silk warehouses. The clothes would then have to be made, either by the women of the house, or those rich enough would employ a dressmaker or modiste. They would most likely copy one of the fashion plates from the Ladies Magazine, or La Belle Assemblée.
Country families who rarely came to London could appoint the proprietor of a London coaching inn to act as their agent for shopping and other business, and the goods they ordered would be sent back to them on the mail coach – the very first “mail order”! Many provincial shopkeepers would travel by mail coach to London to buy goods from the wholesalers. In the early 1780’s Elizabeth Towsey (who, with her sister Susannah kept a milliners in Chester) travelled to London twice a year to select from the new season’s fashions. When the goods arrived, she put an advertisement in the local paper, inviting customer to come and inspect them. (Susannah later married a druggist, Mr Brown, and their son carried on the millinery business, which became a famous department store, Brown’s, in Chester).
Some families did not have a London agent, but would rely upon the county carriers, whose waggons travelled from the larger towns to appointed London inns – this was slower than the mail coach, but considerably cheaper, too.
Now, all the above would apply to the wealthier families, but for most of the villagers, new clothes were a rare occurrence. I found some fascinating snippets of information about country life in a book written by Anne Hughes, a farmer’s wife who lived at the end of the 18th century (The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife, 1796-1797.)
Anne’s village was in Monmothshire, and probably a little more remote than Castonbury, but although she does a great deal of sewing and she talks of her mother-in-law knitting hose and her maid spinning yarn, the only mention of a new clothes is when her husband has been paid for his harvest and he buys her a new gown. Anne does not mention buying cloth or gowns for herself, although when she goes to market and sells her butter (for 7 pence a pound) she does buy a ribbon for her maid Sarah’s hair.
Clothes were passed down the social strata – the lord and lady of the manor passing on their unwanted garments to the villagers and farmers of the area – and no one is offended by this. When it is her husband John’s birthday, Anne says “…I did give him a pair of blue velvet britches, which my dear lady’s mother did give me in my parsell, and which pleased him mitilie, he liking the good small cloes to his leg covering.”
Anne also passed on some of her older clothes to her maid Sarah. When Anne and her husband are invited to the parsonage to drink tea, Sarah is invited too and doesn’t know what to wear …”so we up to my chamber where I did give her a purple velvitt out of my chest… It fitte her finely, so I did tell her to wear it with her warm cloke and nitted bonnitt.” In fact, it must have looked very good, because Sarah ended up marrying the parson!
When it is announced that Sarah is to be married, there is much talk of sewing sheets and linen for her chest, and Anne’s brother in law sends a package for Sarah, which contains “verrie fine linen for the making of sheets and damask for the tablecloths for her tables. And, as well, a verrie fine piece of white satin with a little blue flower upon it, and some fine lace for trimming.”
The satin was later used to make Sarah’s wedding gown “and it do look very nice, all trimmed with the fine lace and some at the sleeves and throat.”
However, before we think that village life in the Regency was a non-stop sunny idyll, there could be disagreements – Anne most definitely took against one Parson’s wife, a Mrs Ellis. She says that when they were walking to church together “Mistress Ellis…minsed along aside me prating of her new cloathes and that the gown she is waring cost so much, which I doe know is onlie her last yeres turned about and new bowes on for show. This I cappes by saying I will show her my new brockade which Jon bought me last market day….. After we had dined, I did take her to my sleepin chamber to showe off on her my best cloes; at seeing which, she begins to trump up about her new black sylk, which had cost so much and which I do know she did buy off Mary Ann, herself telling me so. Knowing this I could well afford to bring out my black sylk with the white spottes, what John did buy for me and which I had not put on. This did end her bounce so down again. It being two howers since she had fed, to tee drinken.”
And again, when Anne sees a “flighty piece in church” – “April ye 12 – We to church this evening….I did see Sarah Anne Plummer was there, tossing her head about, on which was a new bonnet, that I doubte be paid for: she being a shiftless body. I did also spot Mistress Jones….very high and mighty and aping the great lady, she wearing a verrie queer head covering, like a platter, albeit not so big, with great store of flowers upon it and ribbons adandering therefrom, in which she did look a sight to be sure. She did also wear a bright red gown of a cottony stuff, and not silk as I could see verrie well and she did throw off her cloak to show her finery, but la ’twas but trumperie stuff ….”
I do not know what Anne would have made of my heroine Amber’s warehouse – certainly Amber made sure her stock wasn’t “trumpery stuff” but I can imagine that the ladies of the village would have been vying with each other to look their best and more than one would have ribbons “a-dandering” from their bonnets!
Sarah Mallory
The Illegitimate Montague – #5 in the Castonbury Park Series

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It’s the British invasion! Here’s the second appearance of the ladies of the Historical Romance UK Blog, so sit down on the comfy chair, pour yourselves a nice cuppa, and butter that bun…

Hi! It’s great to be here on the Risky Regencies blog again. We’re a group of British Regency writers and we got together a few years ago. We run the Historical Romance UK blog so please drop by and visit us! And if you sign up for our monthly email newsletter, you can enter more competitions to win books and goodies. Just send a blank e-mail here and we’ll do the rest!
Competitions have a closing date of 28th March unless otherwise stated!

Nicola Cornick: Like some of the other authors who belong to the UK Regency Authors’ Group I have dual publication in both the US and UK and so have a great interest in the market on both sides of the Atlantic.
My most recent Regency historical, Unmasked, was published in the US last summer by Harlequin’s HQN Books imprint and is coming out here in the UK this month.

When I started reading Regencies many, many years ago (!) I think that the markets were quite different. Many of the UK books were drawing room Regencies, charming, traditional, but without the robustness and vitality that characterised some of the US writing. I’m generalising here, of course! In recent years I think that the two markets have moved much closer together in style with books by more US based romance authors appearing in British bookstores and vice versa. There are still some ideas that UK print publishers have not yet embraced: Regencies with paranormal or time travel elements in them, for example, although I was thrilled to see the TV programme Lost in Austen leading the way in this last year.

My Regencies take contemporary themes such as winning the national lottery, or being a celebrity, and look at them in a Regency context. My website gives details of books, contests, extra snippets on historical research, free stories and out-takes.

Wendy Soliman: Hi, I´ve written five novels for Robert Hale in the last three years. All of them are set in the Regency period – post Napoleonic wars. These romances all feature a mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the last chapter and, inevitably, a nare-do-well out to exploit the heroine. This, of course, offers the hero the opportunity to to act as her protector, if she´ll let him!
My sixth Regency based mystery-romance, A Reason to Rebel, is being published on 21st April by Samhain, firstly as an e-book and then ten months later as a paperback. This is an exciting departure for me and I´m greatly enjoying the challenge of dipping a toe in the US market. I found the American market requires a fast moving story, which they helped me to create by requesting shorter, sharper sentences. It was difficult always to get my point across in this way at first but when I got used to the concept I found I was cutting out unnecessary repetitions and not making points which ought to have been obvious. In my Hale books I might say, for instance, Julia looked up from her work and glanced out of the window, wondering what was causing all the commotion..´´ Samhain would split that in two. ´Julia looked up from her work and glanced out of the window. She wondered what was causing all the commotion.´ The former is more leisurely but perhaps encourages my tendancy to ramble. The latter is sharper and to the point. As far as I´m concerned, both styles work!

Samhain allowed me total freedom with the development of my characters and I was at liberty to make the book as sexy as I wanted to. In that respect it differs very little from my Hale books, published in the UK, since I prefer to leave quite a lot to the imagination and concentrate on driving the plot forward instead.

Melinda Hammond / Sarah Mallory

Hi everyone – it’s great to be here! Romance in the Motherland. Hmm, is it so different from across the pond? When I was working with my editor at Samhain on my e-book, Moonshadows, I wondered how much she would want to change – after all, I think of myself as a very English writer and I am aware of the subtle differences in our common language! I needn’t have worried: very few alterations were required and I have come to the conclusion that, to paraphrase Shakespeare (who had a couple of good plots himself) the story’s the thing.

Moonshadows is the tale of two women – one in the modern day, one in Georgian England, both pursued by rich, powerful men (one of my own particular fantasies!). They are both strong-willed women, but their actions are influenced by the society they inhabit. Can the modern day heroine learn from the mistakes of her ancestor?

I loved writing Moonshadows, which is what I would call a romance with a spooky twist, and I have an e-copy to give away if you can tell me the name of the two women featured in the book (a quick visit to my website should provide the answer.) e-mail me with the answer and the first correct answer out of the hat on 28th February 2009 will receive a free e-copy of Moonshadows.

Fenella-Jane Miller: I live in East Anglia and all my Regency books are set here. It makes it so much easier to get the scene right when you know the area well. I actually live in Essex near Colchester which is the oldest recorded town in United Kingdom; I’ve set a book in Great Bentley which has the largest village green in England and another in St Osyth’s Priory, which is the finest example of mediaeval architecture still in existence. The House Party, published by Robert Hale, is set in Suffolk, a pretty county adjacent to Essex. Here you can still drive through villages and countryside that has hardly changed since the 19th century. All my books are more historical romantic suspense than a comedy of manners with a strong plot and plenty of action, however you can be sure he and heroine always finds a happy ending. The villain is often not so lucky!

Gothic romances, along the lines of books like Jane Eyre and Victoria Holt’s novels, are also still popular in the UK. The Ghosts at Neddingfield Hall has a ‘Gothic’ feel to it. The book is set in mid-winter, in a snow storm, and the house the hero and heroine are tapped in has been inexplicably deserted by the staff and Aunt Agatha has gone missing too!! The locals stay away believing the floating lights, ghostly howls and clanking chains to be ghosts – but our intrepid hero and heroine, Hester and Ralph, battle on realising the attacks are very real. I don’t know of any US equivalents to this genre, but I’d love to know if there are any.

Joanna Maitland: Hello. I’m Joanna Maitland, a Scot living in England, just a few miles from the Welsh border. I love having access to the history of three countries as background for the Regency historical romances I write for Harlequin Mills & Boon. There are eleven so far, and they are getting more adventurous, both in their settings and in their plots, which is great fun for the author! I hope that the readers are also enjoying my spirit of adventure.

I agree with Nicola that British Regencies have become more robust and vibrant, like the US ones, but I have the impression that US publishers tend to be looking for Regencies set in England (mostly London or Bath) or perhaps in Scotland. I’m not sure that a US publisher would be totally comfortable with the kind of unusual locations I’ve chosen lately. For example, The Aikenhead Honours trilogy (to be published March-May 2009) wanders all over Europe. It features the intrigues of the Russian Emperor’s visit to London in 1814 and his return to St Petersburg (His Cavalry Lady), spies at the Congress of Vienna (His Reluctant Mistress), and the hazards of the Hundred Days in France, prior to the battle of Waterloo in 1815 (His Forbidden Liaison). There will also be a follow-up Harlequin Undone! e-book in July — His Silken Seduction — which is set in France (in Lyons) during the Hundred Days. Not a Bath drawing room in sight!

On this side of the pond, British readers can be very picky about Regency detail that US readers probably would not notice. Scots are particularly finicky (fykie in Scots) about misuse of Scots dialect, which can jar horribly. It may not be helped by factors introduced by the editorial process, such as whiskey (Irish) instead of whisky (Scotch) — not that whisky was drunk by Regency notables anyway — and the ubiquitous tartan on the covers of Regencies set in Scotland.

I admit I’ve learned to accept the tartan. I’ve been told that books set in Scotland have to have tartan on the cover if they’re to sell, even though clan tartan was illegal from 1746 to 1782 and not generally readopted afterwards, partly because of poverty, and partly because many of the weaving and dyeing skills had been lost. People is the border country, where my story The Bride of the Solway is set, never were Gaelic-speaking wearers of tartan anyway, but I think there will be some tartan on the cover when it comes out early next year.

However, like my US counterparts, I’m writing escapist romance set in the Regency period, so maybe it doesn’t matter if some of my detail is wrong, as long as I get the romantic content right. I’ll be happy as long as my readers, wherever they’re from, identify with my heroine and fall in love with my hero. I certainly do!

Anne Herries: As a writer I probably wouldn’t see much difference at all between UK / US Regencies because there are good books on either side of the Atlantic. However, as a reviewer I read quite a few and I have found distinct trends in both English and American novels. As far as the American authors go I find that the good writers often go to extreme lengths to uncover obscure facts about the period and work them into their books. Indeed, in general I find that there is often more historical content in American books than in English.

I also think that sometimes both the hero and the plots of American books are more dangerous and therefore more exciting than some English, though there are exceptions here. However, the American use of the English spoken word is not always good and can be irritating.The English authors rely on accurate period flavour and the spoken word is in most cases perfect, also the manner in which both heroine and hero behave is more accurate to the period, which in my opinion makes the book more believable.
So good and bad on both sides but everything is relative. As Anne Herries I have good and bad reviews on the same book. Some people think my books are wonderful, some think I can’t write at all. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I have written over one hundred books of various types, fifty for Harlequin Mills and Boon.

If you’d like to buy any of the UK published books and can’t find them in the US, The Book Depository delivers them free worldwide.

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