Regency Quick Fix

Christina here. We all lead very busy lives and sometimes we might not have time to read an entire novel – that’s when a short story collection or a novella comes in handy. A few years ago, I wrote some Regency novellas and I was delighted to find that Choc Lit are relaunching them this month with gorgeous new covers! It’s lovely to see them going out into the world again and I hope they are picked up by new readers. If you want a “quick fix” of the Regency period, these should do the trick!

In a recent post, some of the Wenches mentioned how they fell in love with Regency romance thanks to Georgette Heyer. It was the same for me. I first discovered her novels in my high school library when I was supposed to be doing homework. Always a voracious reader, I couldn’t resist checking out the shelves to see what was on offer, and her novels looked intriguing. At the time, I was hooked on Victoria Holt’s gothic romances and had never read anything set in the Regency period. That was soon remedied. Luckily for me, that library had at least half of Ms Heyer’s stories, and I was very happily reading those instead of the boring books I was supposed to read for class.

Later, I was thrilled to discover that she had spawned an entire romance sub-genre, and I went on to read as many Regency novels as I could lay my hands on. Therefore, when I decided to try my hand at writing something myself, it was only natural that I should start with a story set during this era. After all, I had absorbed an awful lot of the details about this time period by memorising everything described in other people’s books. That made it easier as so much of the research was already done.

The result of my first endeavour was MARRY IN HASTE. It started out as a novel aimed at Mills & Boon, but since it was my first ever try, that manuscript was truly awful and they very rightly rejected it. At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong with it – the craft of writing was something I learned over time – so I put it aside. Many years later, when I knew a bit more about plot, characters, tension and so on, I dug the story out again and turned it into a novella. And lo and behold, it was published and became my very first writing success!

I very much enjoyed spending time in the Regency era, but never had any plot ideas that were good enough for a full-length novel. Instead, I wrote some more novellas, which I also managed to get published: ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY, DESPERATE REMEDIES, NEVER TOO LATE and MARRY FOR LOVE. I saw these as a way of taking a break from trying to write my full-length novels. They were great fun to write and I hope they are also fun to read!

 

Here’s an abridged excerpt from MARRY FOR LOVE:-

Delilah struggled to breathe while she stared at her sister’s husband-to-be. The man looked positively haunted.

Dear Lord, what was she to do? She had to stop the marriage, but how?

She racked her brains while her sister made her way up the aisle as slowly as possible in order to allow everyone to admire her dress. There had been talk of little else for weeks and Lilah was sick of the sight of this garment. And she didn’t want to see Deborah’s triumphant smile because she knew it was mostly aimed at her.

It had always been the same. Whenever Lilah wanted something, Deborah took it away from her, by fair means or foul – usually the latter – and Lilah was powerless to stop her. Well, no more. This time her sister had gone too far in trapping an innocent man into marriage just because she had guessed that Lilah was in love with him.

Deborah had reached Hamish’s side now and Lilah noticed that he couldn’t even bring himself to look at his bride. Deborah’s chin shot up a notch and she tossed her head. She obviously thought she would have the last laugh and wasn’t bothered about his lack of courtesy.

The vicar began the service and after rambling on for a while, he uttered the words Lilah had been waiting for.

‘… and if any of you can show just cause why this couple may not lawfully be married, speak now or else forever hold your peace.’

Her body began to shake, but this merely strengthened her resolve. If she felt this bad about the marriage, she could only imagine it must be a thousand times worse for Hamish. Although she could never have him herself, she could save him from a fate worse than death, which is what marriage to Deborah would amount to.

‘I can,’ she said in a loud voice and stood up.

A gasp went through the congregation like a gust of wind through a field of ripe corn. She felt, rather than saw, Hamish’s gaze come slowly round to settle on her, his blue eyes huge with astonishment, while her mother wheezed in a surprised breath.

‘For heaven’s sake, child, what are you about? Sit down this instant,’ Lady Risden hissed and pulled at Lilah’s skirts. She ignored both her mother’s efforts and the fact that her father’s countenance had taken on a scowl of monumental proportions.

‘I beg your pardon?’ The vicar blinked at her, clearly not expecting this.

‘There is an impediment to this marriage,’ Lilah stated clearly. ‘Deborah tricked his lordship to force his hand. She put laudanum in his tea and when he woke up, she made sure they were found in a compromising position. It was all staged, but I was there the entire time behind a curtain. So you see, they were never alone after all.’

Exclamations of shock and fierce whispering broke out all around them. She didn’t care. Deborah speared her sister with a glance of such venom it ought to have felled her on the spot. Lilah ignored that too.

‘She is lying,’ Deborah snarled. ‘She’s jealous that’s all. Besides, it makes no difference either way. Does it?’ This last question was fired off at the vicar, who opened and closed his mouth several times.

‘Well, no, I suppose … I mean …’ He faltered.

Hamish had narrowed his eyes at Deborah and crossed his arms over his chest. ‘Perhaps we should discuss this?’ he suggested, his low voice a menacing rumble.

‘There is nothing to discuss,’ Deborah said through clenched teeth. ‘You cannot go back on your word now. That would be most un-gentlemanly.’

‘Wait! There is another impediment.’ Lilah could feel little rivulets of perspiration beginning to trickle down her back. ‘He … that is, his lordship had, er … c-carnal knowledge of me first.’ She felt her face flame. ‘And d-doesn’t the Bible say that if a man has lain with one sister, then he cannot marry another? It’s against the laws of consanguinity. Am I right?’

She stared at the vicar, imploring him to help her out and to her relief, his brow furrowed and he nodded. ‘Indeed, that is so.’ He turned to Hamish. ‘Is this true, my lord? You, er … seduced this young lady’s sister first?’

Hamish looked hard at Lilah, his gaze questioning, and she nodded imperceptibly to show him he should agree. She had already risked so much, one more lie didn’t matter.

‘Yes,’ he said, sounding very convincing and ever so slightly apologetic in a rather haughty and bored way, ‘I’m afraid I did.’

Deborah let out a shriek of indignation and slapped him hard across the cheek, but he didn’t so much as flinch. Lilah knew it was only a question of time before Deborah’s fury would be turned towards her and she therefore hurried to make her way out of the pew and down the aisle as quickly as possible. She was officially a fallen woman now, a self-confessed one at that, but she didn’t care. After a lifetime of putting up with Deborah’s spite and mean tricks, Lilah had finally shown her sister she could only go so far. From now on she would live her life free from Deborah and if she had to do it as a servant, so be it. Anything had to be better than this.

And she had saved the man she loved in the process.

Are you a fan of the Regency period? What’s your favourite thing about it?

16 thoughts on “Regency Quick Fix”

  1. I also discovered Heyer as a teenager, but through my older sister. I have all of her novels and reread them from time to time. They are a great comfort read among other reasons to revisit them from time to time.There are many things i like about the period, the manners, the clothing, the horse drawn vehicles, horseback riding, the slower pace, the social gatherings, the fact that honor and respect meant something, just to name a few! It just seems a very romantic period to me(and yes, i know all about its darker, less pleasant side, but there is enough misery in the world without dwelling on it in my pleasure reading). In a way it like sitting down with a cup of tea and relaxing into
    a far less hectic and frantic world……a balm for the soul…..

    Reply
    • I feel exactly the same, Jane! I have all her novels too now and they are indeed my usual comfort reads. There is something so special about immersing yourself in that period, isn’t it!

      Reply
  2. I love novellas. When I need a quick read that I can finish in a night or two, I go to my novella collection. Sometimes, I revisit favorites or try out a new author.

    Reply
    • That sounds great, Pamela, I do that too and it’s lovely to have favourites for comfort reads, isn’t it!

      Reply
  3. I adore Georgette Heyer novels and I’ve read them over and over again. I agree totally with jane A above. Everything she says is why I love that period.
    Good luck with the novellas!

    Reply
    • Many thanks, Teresa! It is a wonderful period isn’t it and so very well suited to romantic stories. We all seem to love it!

      Reply

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