The leaves may be falling as we in the higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere head into the dead of winter, but here at the Wenches, new books are blooming by the pageful in November to brighten the season. On Monday, we kicked off the month with Joanna’s new release, Rogue Spy, and today I’m here to trumpet the news that I have a pair of new e-books available.
Now, we all usually blog about some historical subject or arcane bit of fun research we’ve uncovered, and keep promotion about our books to a discreet minimum. But as I got to thinking about it, I realized I could do a little of both. One of the reasons I love writing in the Regency period is because the possibilities are almost endless in crafting interesting, offbeat characters and plots, while still staying true to the temper of the times.
Now don’t get me wrong. I adore the traditional drawing room stories and the comedy of manners penned by Austen and Heyer. Regency Society and all its rich layers of nuances, foibles and rules offer writers a wealth of inspiration. But so do all the explorations and challenges—both physical and mental— that were giving birth to the modern world. Change was affecting every aspect of life, from politics, social reform and science to literature, art and music. One can write of a heroine who learns astronomy or pens essays on the rights of women, or a hero who dares to soar into the heavens or chart unexplored continents, and be accurate as to what was really happening in the era. For me, the fact that women were pushing the boundaries of convention in order to use their intelligence and exercise their curiosity, is hugely exciting, not only because it’s relevant to modern readers (lets face it—not many of us are going to be presented at Court) but also because it’s just plain fun to stretch our own imaginations.
In the first book of my new trilogy, A Diamond in the Rough, I became fascinated by the history of golf through my professional work. It’s been an integral part of British sporting life for centuries. (King James II of Scotland issued an edict banning play in 1457 because it was so popular that archers were neglecting their practice in order to hit the links!) The Old Course at St Andrews, today the mecca of golf, has been in play since the 1400s, and the original 13 Rules of Golf were written in 1744 by the Gentlemen Golfer of Leith,.
So it seemed a perfect place to give a new twist to the traditional sporting wager trope! Instead of dice or cards, I used a featherie. (You have to love a game where the old clubs had names like mashies, cleeks and bottle-nose drivers!) There’s no official evidence that any woman masqueraded as a caddie and learned to play the game better than most men, as I depict in my story. But hey, women served as gunners at the Battle of Trafalgar, so I decided it was likely they were also dueling on the links.
The second book, Sweeter Than Sin, features edible chocolate. Some of you may be familiar with my historical mystery series, which featured two experts on Cacao theobroma . . . well, I decided all that research was simply too tasty to ignore for a romance plot. So I wrote a love story in which the hero and heroine, both wounded in body and spirit, together discover the healing power of chocolate. History shows that Cacao theobroma’s healthful benefits were celebrated by the Aztec, who supplied their soldiers with wafers of chocolate to fortify them for long march into battle. In the late 1700s, it was Sulpice Debauve, physician to Marie Antoinette, who created edible chocolate pistols, favored with nuts and fruit essences, in order to disguise the bitter taste of her medicine. And the rest, as they say, is history. (Thank you mille fois, Monsieur Debauve!)
So, do you have a favorite Regency-set book with an offbeat heroine or exotic locale? I’ll kick off the list with a couple of my favorites—Mary Jo’s The China Bride, which shows the clashing of East and West cultures, Nicola’s Whisper of Scandal, which features an arctic exploration adventure and Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible, which revolves around an intrepid female archeologist in the Middle East. I’ll be giving away a digital copy of either A Diamond In The Rough or Sweeter Than Sin (your choice) to one person chosen at random from readers who leave a comment here between now and Thursday evening.