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Friday, February 4, 2011

Guest Leigh Michaels: How to Have an Affair, Regency Style

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Leigh Michaels, whose latest book is the Regency historical, The Mistress’ House. Here she talks about how to conduct an affair in Regency times.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win one of the two copies of The Mistress’ House which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Leigh will select the winners. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winners within a week of their selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winners Leigh selected are StephB and catslady! Ok, you two, I know who you are and I've sent you email.

Welcome, Leigh!

There were many ways for a Regency gentleman to carry on an affaire, from visiting a bordello to sneaking into a lady’s bedroom at a house party to finding a quiet nook in a hay barn on his country estate. Sometimes the location depended on the duration and depth of the attachment between the lovers; a few years before the Regency period, the Duke of Devonshire installed his mistress – who also happened to be his wife’s best friend – right in his household, and he carried on the affair until the death of the duchess left him free to marry his mistress.

But the most romantic-sounding of all the possible ways for a pair of lovers to get together was the love nest – where a gentleman hired or bought a small house in which he could install the lady of the moment in comfort and security (for her) and convenience (for him). As Thorne thinks when he’s considering buying the house which becomes The Mistress’ House:

There was certainly merit to the notion of buying a house just off Portman Square. If he could tuck a mistress into a trysting place just a step from his own garden, he could avoid a long list of inconveniences. Kicking his heels for hours while messages were delivered and answers returned… Riding halfway across London for an assignation… Finding new, safe, and very secluded meeting places… Wandering around the halls of a country house trying to locate a particular lady’s bedchamber… Keeping his horses, and the grooms who cared for them, waiting outside a private house on a cold day…
© Leigh Michaels, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011

Young women of the day – even those who had been married and widowed – were well-protected from scandal even when they didn’t wish to be. In The Mistress’ House, Anne Keighley is staying in her brother’s house, so she can’t exactly invite her lover to stop by her bedroom. Living with relatives means that her time has to be accounted for, or her brother and sister-in-law will ask questions. She can’t simply go off by herself without taking along a maid or footman or groom, and her brother’s servants owe their loyalty to the man who pays their wages.

Throw in the practicalities – like a gentleman’s coat that was so tightly fitted it required assistance to put on, and a lady’s corset and petticoats – and it’s a wonder clandestine Regency lovers ever managed to get naked together.

So the idea of a love nest – a private house where a couple could be together with minimal risk of interruption – was an attractive option for the man who could afford it. His mistress would be always on call, at his convenience. And when he tired of one paramour, he could move her out while he was looking around for her replacement.

Though having a discreet little love nest right around the corner didn’t quite work out the way Thorne hoped it would in The Mistress’ House

In the book, the love nest is located at Number 5, Upper Seymour Street (isn’t that a lovely aristocratic address?) Though no illustration exists, maps of the period show there was a real house located there, pretty much as it’s described in the book. It stood directly beside the entrance to Berkeley Mews, just around the corner from Portman Square.

Today it’s just called Seymour Street. The houses are gone, and a hotel now occupies the site where The Mistress’ House stood during the Regency era. It’s fitting, I think, that the hotel is called the Hyatt Regency!

THE MISTRESS’ HOUSE BY LEIGH MICHAELS – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2011
Three beautifully intertwined love stories…

The rules are made to be broken…
When the handsome, rakish Earl of Hawthorne buys the charming house across the back garden from his town home, he never expects the lovely lady he installs there to ensnare him completely…

Again…
After Lady Keighley marries the earl, it seems a shame to leave the house empty, so she offers it to her childhood friend Felicity Mercer, who discovers that the earl’s gorgeous cousin is precisely the man she’s been waiting for…

and again…
Finally, feisty Georgiana Baxter moves into the house to escape an arranged marriage, and encounters the earl’s friend Major Julian Hampton late one night in the back garden. The handsome soldier is more than willing to give her the lessons she asks for…

There is plenty of gossip, scandal, and torrid speculations surrounding the “mistress’ house”, but behind closed doors, passions blaze…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leigh Michaels is the author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels and more than a dozen non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published by Harlequin. A 6 time RITA finalist, she has also received two Reviewer's Choice awards from Romantic Times, and was the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award. She is the author of On Writing Romance, published in January 2007 by Writers Digest Books. Leigh also teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, please visit www.leighmichaels.com.

17 comments:

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Love your informative post, Leigh, especially coming from such an experienced writer. Your novel sounds delightful!

I'm not eligible for the prize draw (I'm in Scotland) but I wanted to leave a message.

http://romygemmell.blogspot.com

Alyssia /ah-LIS-ee-ah/ said...

What a great post, Leigh! Personally, I love the house party idea, because they sound like SO much fun. Those interconnecting rooms were quite the thing for clandestine meetings between lovers.

I must say, I am super excited about reading this new book. Sounds both intriguing and wonderfully original, and, oh, a soldier! If I wasn't already engrossed, well, that certainly perked my ears up right then and there! :)

Best wishes to you, your book launch, and all your writing endeavors.

alyssia.nicole@yahoo.com

Leigh Michaels said...

Thanks for stopping by, Rosemary!

Alyssia, I love the house party idea too -- so much that I've used it in my third book, where a group of guests gather at a big estate for a wedding -- and other assorted activities. (It's called The Wedding Affair and it will be released in November.)

The Mistress' House is a bit unusual, with the triple story, and I've continued that pattern in the other historicals. I hope that readers will enjoy the books as much I've liked writing them!

Linda Banche said...

Hi Leigh. I loved THE MISTRESS' HOUSE. Wonderful characters and stories. I especially liked Richard's and Felicity's story. Unusual and poignant. Can't wait for THE WEDDING AFFAIR!

Doc Nani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc Nani said...

Hello Leigh
I have read your ecerpts and i am intrigued by the suspense. It makes me want to read more. If i am not a lucky one to win a copy of the book, I am going to buy it when available. I read all of Barbara Cartland's books. I see where yours is right there with hers. That is a compliment. Thank you.
Sharon
scraver60@gmail.com

Leigh Michaels said...

Linda, thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad you liked Richard and Felicity's story (the middle story in The Mistress' House!

Doc Nani, thank you! I'm glad to know that you're intrigued by the premise of The Mistress' House and are looking forward to reading it!

StephB said...

Leigh,
A very informative post. Thanks so much for sharing. The blurb is absolutely delicious. I love historicals so this is right up my reading alley.

Did you have to do a lot of research to find out how they carried on affairs? If so, was the material easy to find or rather difficult?

Smiles
Steph

Anonymous said...

Interesting concept. I am interested in how a woman who had a courtesy title of Lady managed to get installed in a love nest.Scandal indeed. I'll have to look for the book. I thought a love nest was reserved for the demimode-- women without family and status.

Leigh Michaels said...

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I have to admit that when I first started this book I didn’t know where my characters would meet to have their affairs. I considered a lot of possibilities – inns, a house party, borrowing a house from a friend... and then the penny dropped and I thought, What’s the point of being a rich earl if you can’t set up a convenient spot to meet a mistress?

Anonymous, thanks for your post. A titled lady probably wouldn’t have been installed as a permanent resident of a love nest. If she had her own home, her lover would have been more likely to visit her there – even if she was married, as long her husband was willing to look the other way. But in this case, since Anne’s new lover already owned the house, it was a logical place for them to meet in the short term.

I also just realized that the blurb as originally posted here is an early version and it has a couple of errors. For instance, it should be Lady Keighley, because she’s a widow, rather than Lady Anne Keighley (who would be the daughter of an earl, marquess or duke).So when you see the final book, the back cover copy is a bit different.

Linda, I neglected to thank you for inviting me to appear here. I’m enjoying the blog and all your visitors!

catslady said...

I'm very curious as to did you switch from writing contemporary to historical or vice versa or do you do the occasional historical amongst your contemporaries? I have always enjoyed historicals and not read as many contemporaries so I'm afraid you are a new author for me but The Mistress' House sounds very intriguing. I love the idea of three beautifully intertwined love stories and the Regency has always been a favorite time period of mine.

Linda Banche said...

You're quite welcome, Leigh.

And I edited the post to fix the errors.

Leigh Michaels said...

Thank you for fixing the post, Linda!

Catslady, you asked about my switch from writing contemporary to historical. I've always loved the Regency period, too, and I read Regency novels and non-fiction to relax while I was writing contemporary romance. So when I hit burnout after 80 books and needed a change, it was a natural choice to turn to my favorite historical period to recharge my batteries and give myself a new challenge. I don't know what I'll do in the long run - I'll probably write a variety of settings and time periods and lengths (I like novellas and short stories, too).

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda and Leigh,
Very interesting and enjoyable post.

Regards

Margaret

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Wonderful post!
An intriguing idea for your plot, too.
BRAVO.

Savanna Kougar said...

Interesting how women and men will always find a way to be together, regardless of the social mores.

Best on your new release!

Leigh Michaels said...

Margaret, Cerise, and Savanna -- Thanks for stopping by! I couldn't agree more that lovers will always find a way -- even with all the extra complications offered by society's rules and the practical considerations of clothes!