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Early Chemists

Beyond taking chemistry in college, I know very little about it, so I did a great deal of research for this particular book. I spent FAR too much time watching videos of experiments, but at least I got a direct sense of how certain chemicals reacted to each other. And I found some funny stories about early chemists. There was Christian Friedrich Schönbein (inventor of the fuel cell and guncotton and discoverer of ozone) who, in 1845, despite having promised his wife not to experiment in their kitchen, was doing so while she was away and used her apron to sop up a combo of nitric acid and sulfuric acid. Then he hung the apron over the stove to dry and it ignited and burned to ash so quickly that it seemed to vanish! I sure hope it wasn’t his wife’s favorite, although I can totally see Olivia doing something like that (accidentally, of course) to her husband’s nightshirt. Ooh, that could lead to some sexy times, couldn’t it?

Guns during Regency

Guns during the Regency were sometimes things of beauty, like the one I describe in The Bachelor that Thorn offers to Joshua as payment for his being bodyguard to Gwyn. If you want to see what it looked like, I based it on an actual set of dueling pistols, a picture of which is on Pinterest here and here. I also have an image of Joshua’s seven-shot flintlock pepperbox pistol, made by Henry Nock of London around 1800, which looks big enough to use as a club after you run out of loaded barrels. Of course, it would take you a while to run through them all since the barrels had to be turned by hand! My Pinterest page for the book also features a number of blades in canes, pistol canes . . . everything you need to be a bodyguard.

Illegitimacy

My Royal Brotherhood series is about three illegitimate sons of the Prince of Wales, whose term as Regent is what gave the period the name of “Regency.” Two of the three sons are actually considered legitimate by the laws of the time, so those two are able to have titles. English law dictated that if a child was born into a marriage, the father was legally the husband, no matter what he might say about it. And of course there was no way to tell in that period that the child was of a different father. Also, having a child by the Prince of Wales wasn’t exactly frowned upon, especially if the husband looked the other way. In fact, I loosely based Marcus, Viscount Draker and the hero of the second book, on George Lamb—fourth son of the first Viscount Melbourne—who was widely rumored to be Prinny’s son. It didn’t seem to have hurt him—George married a duke’s daughter!

A Female Chemist

The heroine in my upcoming book, Who Wants to Marry a Duke, is a chemist. I based her on an actual female chemist from the period, the Scottish Mrs. Fulhame. Most people have never heard of her and we know little about her beyond the book she wrote detailing her experiments. Yet she published that critical work on her findings about catalysis long before any male chemist was credited with it, and she was lauded by a number of prominent chemists at the time, both in America and England. She even acknowledged that she expected some criticism from men over her work: “But censure is perhaps inevitable: for some are so ignorant, that they grow sullen and silent, and are chilled with horror at the sight of anything that nears the semblance of learning, in whatever shape it may appear; and should be the spectre appear in the shape of a woman, the pangs which they suffer are truly dismal.” Kudos to Mrs. Fulhame! We may not know the exact date of her birth, but she left her work behind to advance scientific discovery anyway. For that we can only be grateful. Go here to read more about her.

Court Fashion

Those of you who’ve read The Bachelor might have noticed that I talked about the odd attire required for those ladies presented at court and their escorts. Well, I didn’t make that up. Queen Charlotte did insist on powdered wigs for gentlemen and hoop skirts, ostrich feathers, and lots of jewelry for ladies. You can see several examples of those odd fashions here.

Young ladies had to wear white, but married ladies (like Beatrice) could wear colored gowns. Add a train to the gown, and you can only imagine how hard it was to walk in those fashions! Fortunately, ladies only had to wear them for their presentation at court. Then they could change into something more flattering.

Marriage

The concept of my series may seem farfetched: a woman marrying (and burying) three dukes in rapid succession (really, two dukes and a duke’s second son who becomes the duke) and having an assortment of children by them. But real-life debutante Elizabeth Gunning proved that it really was possible to marry well more than once. After taking society by storm as an actress, Elizabeth wowed London’s gentlemen with her beauty and talent. As a result, she ended up married to the Duke of Hamilton and bore him three children. After he died, she was briefly engaged to the Duke of Bridgwater before the engagement fell through. Then she married the Marquess of Lorne, who later inherited his father’s title of Duke of Argyll, and bore him five children. Eventually George III made her Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon in her own right. That’s quite a string of marital (and otherwise) successes for an actress!

Just Dance

I hope y’all will forgive me if I talk more about Regency dancing, which was a bit like our square dancing. The master of ceremonies called out the figures, or dance moves, because the dances at this time didn’t have fixed figures. Experienced masters of ceremonies would most likely plan these figures ahead of time, so they all led naturally into each other and fit the tempo and length of the piece of music. Complicated, huh!

As I researched dances for Grey to teach Beatrice, I had trouble finding one with set figures for a specific piece of music. Although “Jenny’s Market” from Project Duchess was created specifically for the Emma BBC series, all of the figures can be found in a variety of English country dances, so I went with that one. Plus, it looked sexier than a lot of the others. Hey, just because I wanted a dance that was true to the period doesn’t mean I had to sacrifice intimacy to get it!

Holiday Music

It’s a bit early to talk about the holidays, but since my Christmas story is coming out any day now (and decorations are already showing up in places), I figure y’all will forgive me. Most people are unaware that many of our most popular Christmas carols don’t date back very far. “Silent Night” was first composed in 1818 and didn’t make it to other countries until decades later. “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and “Away in a Manger” are mid-Victorian. All of our secular carols are from the 20th century and on. So instead of putting a carol in my Christmas story, I put phrases from an assortment of carols from all periods into the mouths of my unwitting characters. There are nine of them. Have fun finding them!

Chocolate

While chocolate as we know it didn’t really exist in the Regency, there was a confectioner named Guglielmo Jarrin who created eggs out of rock sugar. He also had a recipe for created transparent hollow eggs of sugar that could then be filled with yellow cream so they resembled real eggs ala Cadbury Crème Eggs. I wish I could have seen these. They sound so cool! But there’s no way I could make them, even if I could find the lead moulds for them. If you want to try, however, you can check out The Italian Confectioner, available in its entirety online at Google Books.

Where did we get the term “Regency”?

Do you know where we get the term “Regency” for the period? (If you do, you can hum “God Save the Queen” while I explain.) It covers the time when the Prince of Wales, George Augustus Frederick (aka Prinny), stepped in as Regent for his father, King George III (aka the King George Americans fought against because of his taxation policies aka Mad King George), because he was, well, unable to run the country. So technically the Regency Period began in 1811 and ended in 1820, 200 years ago this month, when George III died and George IV became king. But for purposes of looking at periods in terms of their culture, fashions, ideas, etc., many people consider the Regency period to stretch from either 1783 or 1795 to 1830 or 1837 (when Victoria came to the throne). That’s why there’s such a wide range of dates in our books!