Friday, November 25, 2011

A taste of the Regency Era

As my Regency intrigue novella, LOVE AND WAR is now priced at 0.99c on Amazon.com, I thought I’d share some of the romance of the Regency.

The Fashions
Regency gowns were influenced by the Napoleonic era, and were Classical in style. By 1816 waists were at their highest under the bust, gradually dropping until the 1830s, when they took on the style of the Victorian era, as sleeves and skirts became fuller.
Neo-Classical Houses
Classical Greek and Roman architecture

Stourhead, Wiltshire
The Renaissance
Deepdene, Surrey rebuilt in 1769-75 for Charles Howard 10th Duke of Norfolk. drew inspiration from the Palladian style of Classical architecture in the Renaissance era. 
During the 16th Century, Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio was most influenced by the Ancient Greek and Roman’s classical temple architecture. In 17th Century Europe, Palladio's interpretation of this classical architecture was adapted as the style known as Palladianism. It continued to develop until the end of the 18th century. The style influenced many of the great houses of Britain. Its Doric columns, pediments, symmetry and proportions are clearly evident in the design of many modern buildings today.

Inigo Jones was the designer of the Queen’s House, Greenwich, begun in 1616, the first English Palladian house.

The Mirror of Graces (1811) By A Lady of Distinction
A Wash to give Lustre to the Face
Infuse wheat-bran well-sifted, for three or four hours in white wine vinegar; add to it five yolks of eggs and a grain or two of ambergris, and distil the whole. When the bottle is carefully corked, keep it for 12 or 15 days before you make use of it. 
On Deportment
‘The awkward, reserved air of the early part of the last century has given way, not to grace and frankness, but to an unblushing impudence, which is the very assassin of female virtue and connubial behavior.’
Carriage and Demeanour
'Many of the naturally most pleasing parts of the female shape have I seen assume an appearance absolutely disgusting; and all from an outre air, vulgar manners, or hoydenish postures. The bosom, which should be prominent, by a lounging attitude sinks into slovenly flatness, rounding the back and projection the shoulders!'
The Waltz.
'But with regard to the lately-introduced German waltz, I cannot speak so favourably. I must agree with Goethe, when writing of the national dance of his country, "that none but husbands and wives can with any propriety be partners in the waltz.'

LOVE AND WAR
Selena couldn't accuse him of paying her Spanish coin! Gyles Devereux made it clear he had no wish to marry at all but was constrained by his circumstances. She could not be expected to keep refusing Lord Devereux, she thought crossly. She was only flesh and blood after all. What woman on earth could resist the pleas of a man such as Devereux?  
Excerpt:
At her sister, Anne's, insistence Selena found herself at the
Upper Assembly rooms in Bath again the first Monday of the
following month. It was crowded and she danced every
dance, but when she settled among the potted palms with a
glass of detestable Madeira that a young man had brought
her, she admitted to herself she was bored to distraction.
Her friend and companion on these occasions, Elsbeth, was
away nursing a sick relative and Selena had never been very
good at small talk with bare acquaintances. She loved to
plunge into a brisk, political debate with someone of an
opposite view, or discuss the latest news of the Duke of
Wellington's exploits in Spain, when news finally reached
them. She liked to be busy, washing the dogs or riding in the
park, and was also quite content to spend an afternoon
reading a book that pushed the boundaries of her knowledge.
But to sit here and simper and curtsy and dance one
interminable dance after another was a bore. She was
pondering the possibilities of declaring a headache and
retiring early, when a voice above her said, "Well, if it isn't
Miss Selena Wakefield."
She knew that deep, amused voice before she looked up.
She could scarcely raise her head as her heart began to beat
unnaturally fast.
"Lord Devereux," he said unnecessarily, as he bowed over
her hand.
"I may not be in the first flush of youth, Lord Devereux,
but there's nothing wrong with my eyes or my memory."
"Indeed. You are remarkably well preserved. Not a gray
hair to be seen, for what, three and twenty?"
"Last Tuesday."
"Then please accept belated birthday wishes. May I join
you?"
"Certainly."
He sat next to her on the small settee, his proximity
making her heart beat faster. "I didn't know you liked
Madeira."
"I don't."
"Allow me to get you a glass of wine." He gestured to a
waiter.
"I would be grateful, thank you."
He fixed her with a blue-eyed stare. "You are looking well."
"Thank you. And so do you." She wished her heart would
slow a little from its relentless pounding. He wore his golden
hair long, tied with a black, velvet ribbon, while other men
wore theirs short and carefully windswept. It was like him to
defy the popular mode of dress. His black coat of superfine
needed no padding at the shoulder, fitting tightly around his
slim waist. His waistcoat was also black, as were his satin
breeches. His cravat pin was his only adornment. He stood
out in a crowd of glittering jaybirds, a blond devil, no doubt
secure in the knowledge that women would fall under his
spell. Realizing she was also on dangerous ground, Selena
steeled herself to remain indifferent to his charms, but her
heart didn't seem to be listening.
"I don't like that pasty color on you, though," he said. "It's
quite the wrong green for you."
She drew a sharp breath as she smoothed the skirt of her
white muslin gown, woven and trimmed with pale green.
"Oh?"
"I'm sorry, but you know I'm inclined to blunt speaking,"
he confessed, not looking the slightest bit sorry. "You should
wear a green that matches your eyes." He touched the
emerald pin glowing among the folds of his white cravat.
"This green would be perfect."
"I am as yet unmarried, Lord Devereux," she managed to
splutter.
"Oh right. Insipid colors for the virginal," he said. A wicked
gleam came into his eyes. "I have an excellent plan that will
take care of both these problems."
She gasped and looked around. "I refuse to listen to it,
Lord Devereux. You are not to be encouraged. You shall ruin
my reputation. It doesn't matter about yours. It is already
lost."
"Come out onto the terrace where no one will hear us."
"I will most certainly do nothing of the kind!"
He put his hand on her arm. "Curse it, Selena. I will
behave myself. I give you my word. I need to talk to you."
Selena looked around. It wouldn't do to be seen shrugging
him off. "I shall give you five minutes, but I can't imagine
there's anything you want to say to me. We've said it all
before."
They took a turn about the terrace, passing other couples
enjoying the mild evening air. Braziers burned in their
sconces along the wall. Strains of the Sussex Waltz with flute
and violin floated through the open doorway. Lord Devereux's
features, lit by moonlight, were classically handsome, a noble
forehead, high cheekbones, a straight nose, and a mouth and
dimpled chin that made a woman weak in the knees. He
settled against the balustrade beside her with a casual grace
that never seemed to desert him. His heavy-lidded eyes
gazed down into hers. It should have been breathtakingly
romantic and for a brief moment, it was.
"Selena, I must marry for money," he said bluntly.
She turned away, feeling he'd grasped her heart and
squeezed it.
He reached out and gripped her arm, his fingers burning
into the flesh between her glove and capped sleeve. "Don't go
yet, Selena. I know I'm too direct. I can't be dishonest with
you. Don't know why."
"That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," she said
dryly.
He gave a brief laugh. Taking her by the shoulders, he
searched her face. "I have no desire to marry. Don't doubt I
should make a very poor husband. In my defense, I'll never
consciously be cruel to you, and can offer you a title that goes
back to the Norman Conquest. And by way of consolation, I
like you."
"And desire my fortune."
He shrugged. "Halcrow Hall is falling into disrepair and its
lands lie fallow. My great, great grandfather lost a
considerable amount of money when his ships were sunk
during England's war against Spain. The family fortunes have
been dashed on the rocks ever since. I can't bear to see it
happen, Selena."
She drew breath at the fire and passion glowing in his blue
eyes. It wasn't for her, but she still found herself helplessly
caught up in it. All her resolve and her commonsense failing
her like a fortress falling in battle. "You now intend to devote
your life to restoring the mansion and its lands?"
"Yes. I must pay off my father's creditors," he said simply.
"I've sold out of the army, and am now living on borrowed
time."
"Why now?"
He shook his head and grinned. "I turned twenty-nine and
wanted to live beyond thirty."
"I must say I'm surprised they let you while the war is still
raging," she said.
His blue eyes searched hers, for a sign, no doubt, that she
wavered.
"Why me? There are other heiresses. Pretty ones."
"I'll be damned if I'll get leg-shackled to a shallow bore or
a long-nosed, humorless wench." He opened his eyes wide.
"Or a blue stocking!"
She laughed. "Not all of them, surely."
He shook his head. "I've looked them all over, believe me.
You're the only one I could consider spending any time with."
"Well at least you don't pay me Spanish coin."
He grinned. "And many men do?"
"I have had my fill of suitors. My sister Anne is determined
to have me married off before the year is out."
"Then marry me, Selena. Say you will."
She could not be expected to keep refusing him, she
thought crossly. She was only flesh and blood after all. What
woman on earth could resist the pleas of a man such as
Devereux? The last of the fortifications around her heart gave
way.
"We might arrange a marriage of convenience, of sorts, I
suppose," she said cautiously. It would certainly get the
pesky matchmakers and fortune hunters off her back and
provide her with a home of her own. She refused to consider
what her real reason might be, to see his face at breakfast
every morning. A thought struck her. Would she be leaving
her tidy, organized life for one of hellish proportions?
"Don't think I'll live with you without the pleasures of the
marriage bed," he warned, breaking into her thoughts.
"Oh! Do hush, my lord." Her face grew hot and she
glanced around. Another couple stood at the end of the
terrace engrossed in their own conversation.
"I wanted to make that plain."
She suppressed a shiver of anticipation as his strong, agile
body leaned towards her. She found herself wondering what
he looked like naked, the feel of his skin, the muscles and
bones beneath. The tautness of a male body against the
softness of hers.
She swallowed. "Then ask me properly." Had she gone
mad? This was a recipe for a broken heart if ever there was
one.
As Lord Devereux sank down on one knee before her, an
exclamation of delight came from the woman at the other end
of the terrace.
If only you knew, Selena thought.
"Miss Wakefield, will you do the honor of becoming my
wife?" he said in a throbbing accent, making her want to
giggle. "I shall cherish you for all the rest of your life. Should
dissipation not carry me off before you," he added wickedly.
"I will. Now please get up," she said, "before we become a
spectacle, and have the gossips chattering for months."
He rose and took her by the waist pulling her to him, his
musky scent enveloping her. "They will anyway. Let's seal it
with a kiss." He brought his mouth down on hers before she
could protest, probing with his tongue and rendering her
shocked and breathless.
"Oh! That's so romantic," the lady said to her companion.
Devereux drew away. When she could find her voice,
Selena said weakly. "You promised to behave."
Costume in Detail 1730-1930 Nancy Bradfield
England's Lost Houses, Giles Worsley, Aurum
Georgian House Style Ingrid Cranfield David & Charles Ltd. 1997
Louis Hellman Architecture for Beginners 1986.
The Mirror of Graces (1811) By A Lady of Distinction
Images from Wikipedia

5 comments:

Debra E. Marvin said...

Thanks! I needed a little Devereaux this morning.

Maggi Andersen said...

Hi Debra, I'm glad, lol. Thanks for stopping by.

katsrus said...

I love your book cover. Very pretty. Really enjoyed your excerpt. Your post was very interesting. Learned a little something new about that era.
Sue B
katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

Vonnie said...

Oooh. Nice hero.

Maggi Andersen said...

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Vonnie. Thanks for dropping by.