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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Release Day! GIFTS GONE ASTRAY, Regency comedy

Today is the release day for my latest Regency comedy novella, Gifts Gone Astray.

A gift is a wonderful surprise. Or maybe not.

At the Earl of Langley's family gathering, everyone receives a gift, including the servants. Tutor Stephen Fairfax expects a small token, but the present from family member Mrs. Anne Copely, the widow who's caught his eye, is a dream come true.

Until he opens it. What a gift! How did that demure lady acquire such a book? And she wants to "study" it with him? If he accepts her offer, tempting as it is, he could lose his job.

Anne has no idea why Mr. Fairfax is in such a flutter. Her present is a simple book of illustrations. The subject interests them both, and she would like nothing better than to examine the book--and Mr. Fairfax--more closely.

She glanced at the mantel clock. "Oh, look at the time! I must return to the drawing room. So much to do before the family party tonight. But, before I leave..." She swallowed. "We had some trouble with the gifts today. Yours went missing. I apologize—"

"But I received a gift. Someone left it outside my door."

"Thank the stars." She pressed her hand to her bosom.

Stephen's gaze followed her hand down and his throat dried.

"I worried your present was lost."

She worried about me. Capital! He tore his eager gaze from her breasts and lifted his head. "I have not yet unwrapped it. A book, I take it?"

"Yes. The volume belonged to my husband. He was a scholar, and that book was one of his favorites. Mine, too. We spent many happy hours enjoying it." Another dazzling smile curved her lips. "I selected it with you in mind."

His pulse thumped. I have a chance. "You flatter me with your consideration."

"My pleasure." She flashed another of her heart-stopping smiles. "As much as I long to, I will not ruin the surprise by telling you what the book is." She smoothed her face into a blank stare, but her glorious chocolate eyes twinkled.

So, she wanted to play games. He gave an inward smirk. He would love to play games of a different sort. But he would settle for a guessing game. For now.

Available at:

The Wild Rose Press

Note, depending where you are, the links might not yet be active.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guest Grace Burrowes on Illegitimacy During the Regency

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome New York Times best-selling author Grace Burrowes and her second Regency historical, The Soldier. Devlin, the hero of The Soldier, is illegitimate. Grace tells us how the illegitimate have fared throughout English history.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win one of two copies of The Soldier which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Grace 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 selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

The winners are Suzanne Barrett and Anonymous! Anonymous, I have no address for you. Please send me an email at If I do not hear from the winners by July 5, 2011, I will select alternates.

Welcome, Grace!

Grace Burrowes:

This is a fascinating topic, particularly when traced down through centuries of English history. William of Normandy, known to us as William the Conqueror and founder of the modern English monarchy, was illegitimate. By law and by custom, Queen Elizabeth I was illegitimate, and by my count, Queen Victoria had close to twenty illegitimate cousins thanks to Prinny’s siblings. His successor to the throne, younger brother William, was responsible for eight of those cousins.

When I first came across facts such as these, I’d set each one aside and think, “Well, that’s an exception. Illegitimacy was heavily frowned on. We know that.” But the facts kept piling up: King Charles II is said to have had as many as twelve illegitimate children, and of the eight who survived to adulthood, he created six of them as “first duke of something,” and the lone female in the pack ended up a countess. The case of the eighth child, Charles Fitzroy is illuminating.

This young fellow was born to the Earl of Cleveland’s wife, and thus became the Second Earl of Cleveland, though he was also titled First Duke of Southampton. Not surprisingly, his legal parents separated upon his birth. Upon the death of his mother, through a special remainder in the dukedom, Charles Fitzroy became Second Duke of Cleveland in addition to First Duke of Southampton—a double duke, though clearly illegitimate.

Fitzroy inherited his dukedom through his mother, something we’re often told cannot happen; he was given a title though illegitimate, something else we’re told isn’t likely; and though illegitimate, he inherited a very exalted title as a function of special wording in the dukedom’s letters patent, something I’ve been confidently assured is “impossible.”

The longer I nosed around in the history books, the more examples I found of illegitimacy in high places not following the rubrics we’re told are historically inviolable—the Duke of Devonshire’s infamous ménage being another case in point.

I think two forces have combined to give us a somewhat skewed view of those born on the wrong side of high ranking blankets. First, illegitimacy was indeed frowned upon, legally and socially. An illegitimate child could only inherit from a parent through an explicit, specific, uncontested written bequest, and inheriting a title from a parent was rare indeed, though not, as we’ve seen, quite impossible. For the common folk, illegitimacy was a significant problem. The mother had custody of the child, but the father had no legal obligation to care for his illegitimate progeny whatsoever. Paternal honor or family resources were the only safeguards for offspring of non-sanctioned unions, regardless of social rank.

And we have no way of knowing how many illegitimate children the nobility and peerage left to dire fates, and yet, with no reliable means of contraception, no practical access to divorce, and a sense of entitlement rampant among the upper classes, we do know illegitimacy happened.

The second factor that might be affecting our view of aristocratic illegitimacy is the Victorian reaction to Regency excesses generally. King William did not create his Fitzclarence progeny as dukes and duchesses, he gave them courtesy titles, as if they were the children of a marquis.

Princess Sophie’s illegitimate son, Tommy Garth, was raised by his father, given a military commission, and never acknowledged as royal offspring (and the debate is not entirely resolved among historians). William Wordsworth took financial responsibility for his illegitimate daughter (conceived in France during the Peace of Amiens), but as poet laureate of Victorian England, he kept her existence very quiet.

We see the Regency period in part through those Victorian eyes, which cast a long, stern shadow over the history immediately preceding them. Peeking under that shadow at some of the facts and figures in history, gives us a different, more interesting, and sometimes surprising picture indeed.


Even in the quiet countryside he can find no peace...
His idyllic estate is falling down from neglect and nightmares of war give him no rest. Then Devlin St. Just meets his new neighbor...

Until his beautiful neighbor ignites his imagination...
With her confident manner hiding a devastating secret, his lovely neighbor commands all of his attention, and protecting Emmaline becomes Devlin’s most urgent mission.

Grace Burrowes is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Heir, also a 2010 Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. She is a practicing attorney specializing in family law and lives in rural Maryland, where she is working on the next books chronicling the loves stories of the Windham family. Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish will be in stores in October 2011, and The Virtuoso will be in stores in November 2011, with more to come in 2012! For more information, please visit

Monday, June 20, 2011

The First Amendment

The colonies decided to declare independence from England as tensions mounted over taxation and other issues. One big problem is the colonists felt they had no voice or say in matters important to them or representation by the crown.

When the Bill of Rights was written, the first amendment stated there would be no establishment of religion, freedom of the press, the right to peacefully assemble and freedom of speech. If I say King George looks like a sissy in his wig, I shouldn't have to face the stockade for it. It's just an opinion.

Over 200 years later, the desire to uphold these rights puts us in a quandry. You have the right to thank God for dead soldiers, but it is thanks to the soldier that you have this right at all.
The supreme court of the United States has supported the Westboro church as having the freedom of speech to protest at military funerals.

Today, hundreds of bikers called the Patriot riders escorted the family of a young man from the airport. He was a 21 year old Marine killed in Afghanistan.
When Westboro announced they would be protesting at this man's funeral, the people responded. With the right to peacefully assemble, hundreds of Gastonia residents lined the streets to keep the protestors from harrassing the family.

The numbers must have intimidated Westboro, because they never showed up, and the family was able to put the focus where it belonged.
As a mother, I can't help crying over the loss of this child. As an American, I can't contain the pride in my community. We the people sent a message. The dignity of our fallen will be respected as will the mourning time for these families.

We have a voice, never forget it.
Be well,

Dueling, a time honored tradition?

In England, dueling was part of a long-standing code of honor, far beyond a mere tradition. Gentlemen in Regency England took their dueling very seriously; they would rather die than be dishonored.

Does your heart go pitter patter just at the sound of that? Mine sure does. How many man that honorable do you know? Okay, maybe we'd call it misplaced pride, but hey, that was a different world with a different set of rules.

The procedure for issuing a challenge was very specific. A gentleman never challenged a social inferior. For instance, a gentleman of significance with ties to the aristocracy or nobility would never challenge a commoner, such as a blacksmith or a farmer. Also, if there was a significant age difference, the challege would not be extended.

If they were socially equal, or at least similar, the gentleman who was offended would tell the man who’d wronged him that he should choose his “second,” a close friend or family member who would look out for his best interests. If he was really incensed, he might slap him with his glove, but that was considered extreme and beneath gentlemanly behavior, as it was the ultimate insult and probably resulted in a fight then and there.

After the verbal challenge – or perhaps warning would be a better word – was issued, depending on the severity of the offense, the other might have a choice; he could either apologize, or he could accept. Sometimes the apology would not be accepted--ften if there were a third person who’d been wronged.

The next day, supposedly after heads had cooled, the wronged man who wished to duel would send his “second” with a written letter challenging the duel. The other may chose to apologize or accept the challenge. If accepted, he would choose swords or pistols and name the time and the place.

When the allotted day arrived, they met, probably in a remote place where they wouldn’t be caught by the law, and the seconds inspected the weapons to be used. A final opportunity for an apology could be given. If not, the seconds decided if the duel should be fought to (a) first blood, or (b) until one can no longer stand, or (c) to the death. Once that was decided, the opponents dueled and the seconds watched to insure that nothing dishonorable happened.

If one of the duelers becomes too injured to continue, occasionally the second would step in and duel. Sometimes, the seconds were hot-headed and ended up dueling each other as well.

By the Regency Era, dueling was outlawed. However, duels still happened more frequently than many people knew. The problem was, because courts were made up of peers, they were reluctant to charge another peer with murder as a result of a duel. There is a case where one nobleman was charged with murder and tried, but used the defense that his behavior was gentlemanly and honorable, meaning that he acted within the proper code of conduct. He was acquitted by his peers.

As horrible as it sounds to our modern selves, Regency gentlemen took their honor very seriously,. They considered death preferable to living with the label of a coward, a label that would follow them and their families for years.

And, maybe it’s me, but there a certain romance about a gentleman brave enough and protective enough to be willing to risk death defending my honor from another man who’d besmirched it.

A duel is what leads to all the trouble for my hero in my book "The Stranger She Married" and causes events he wishes desperately he could change, especially when the duel goes awry and causes pain to an entire family.

I'm sure glad my husband isn't likely to try it...

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