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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mistress Mine

My newest book, Only A Mistress Will Do, released yesterday! So today I thought I’d give you a little information about what a mistress was in the
18th century, when my novel is set. For the moment, we will assume the word “mistress” means a woman who takes money in exchange for favors, sexual or otherwise. And there was actually a lot of “otherwise” into the bargain. Becoming a man’s mistress could be a lucrative profession for a woman. The aim of the mistress was to gain the favor of a gentleman of means, become indispensable to him, and become all but a wife in name. This happened frequently in Georgian England, where men and women married for wealth, power, or social connections rather than for love. Love, for men and women, was expected to come from outside the home. Once a woman bore her husband an heir and a “spare” she could dally with men of her choice as long as they were discrete. Men, as long as they got legitimate heirs on their wives, would keep a series, or perhaps one, mistress for that emotional connection that could not usually be found in his home.
Mistresses, therefore, were an emotional support for the nobility. They could come from different walks of life, but the thing that distinguishes them from mere prostitutes or courtesans, is the emotional attachment they had for their “protector” and he for her. Mistresses were usually considered “kept” women, who have some or all of their personal expenses paid for by the gentleman in order for her to be at his disposal for sex, for companionship, even for outings in society sometimes. In Only A Mistress Will Do, Violet is offered the position of mistress to Lord Trevor, ostensibly to replace the mistress who had left him to return to her home. Lord Trevor is about to embark on an arranged marriage and is struggling with the question of whether he should continue to keep a mistress or be faithful to his wife. Complications arise when his emotional attachment to both women grows. As a rule, mistresses were young, attractive women with wit and charm. If possible these women married their protectors or other men of good family before they reached an age at which they were no longer attractive enough to entice rich patrons. Some, if circumstances did not go in their favor, resorted to becoming common prostitutes and many died alone and penniless. But there were also those rare mistresses who managed a Cinderella story, married their prince charming, and did live a satisfying life happily ever after.

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