Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Georgian Frolic for Grace by Grace Burrowes

This month marks the publication of my first novella, The Courtship, which also happens to be my first story set in the Georgian period. I was hesitant to leave my Regency (1811-1820) window of comfort, but when Percival Windham went courting, the year was much closer to 1785. She who sets a sibling series in the Regency must accept that the parents of her characters courted in an earlier era.

The Courtship is the story of how Percival Windham, Duke of Moreland, met and fell in love with Esther Himmelfarb, who became his wife, his duchess and the mother of his children. I’ve read Jo Beverly’s wonderful Georgians, Eloisa James’s, and Emery Lee’s but needed to research the period further before trying to set a story in it.
I was afraid I’d have to inflict a towering, powdered hairdo on Esther, or perhaps an enormous wig. I was equally anxious that Percival might have to strut around in red heels and clocked stockings, wearing face powder and patches… Georgette Heyer could pull off such a hero, but presenting my hero, much less this particular duke in such finery would have been a daunting challenge.

Luckily for me, I found the 1780s to be a decade of change and tolerance from a fashion standpoint. Ladies dresses no longer sported the tremendous hoops and panniers of early years, and hairdos were becoming more moderate. Not everybody wore powder everywhere, and a cavalry officer was expected to sport about in handsome leather boots.
The more I researched the fashions, the more envious I became of the beautiful fabrics, vivid colors and flattering styles. Because the steel grommet was not yet in use, ladies’ corsets were not the instruments of torture they became in the next century.
Fortunately for me, Esther and Percival, that Regency staple, the house party, was already an established institution in the Georgian period. Thus Esther and her swain could meet, fall in love, and plight their troth in a few busy weeks. The compact house party time frame was perfect for a novella, and even provided some entertaining secondary characters who all got their just deserts by the time Percival and Esther set their wedding date.
"The Courtship” can be downloaded now from Discover A New Love (and no, you do not have to be a member to shop there). The Amazon preorder link is here, and the novella will download from there and all other major e-platforms starting November 6.
To two commenters below, I’ll send a gift certificate for Discover a New Love, or the signed Grace Burrowes book of their choice.


  1. I always look forward to and love your posts, Grace. Does that gorgeous dress come in a much bigger size?

  2. Hi Grace,

    I have read all of your books and I have loved them all!!! I am looking forward to reading your novella as well!

  3. Carolyn, I wish... I'm always fascinated by the details, like the idea that you can't lace a woman to fifteen inches without steel grommets for her corset laces and steel or bone reinforcements.

    Awful stuff, and I'm pleased to know my duchess didn't have to endure it as a young woman.

    Christine, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you're in lots of good company. I enjoyed this novella so much there's a second one coming out in April 2013, about the time in Percy and Esther's marriage when all seemed lost...

  4. I have been an avid follower of your books since The Heir debuted. I love that you are such a detailed oriented writer as that tends to stimulate my mind. I look forward to the release of the novella along with anything else that you write.

  5. 15 inch waists - holy cow! My thighs are bigger than that! While I love reading about the Regency era as well as the Georgian era I'm glad that I live in an age of "natural waists" and antibiotics! Grace I love your books and have introduced you to my sisters who also adore your writing. I particularly like having the story be about daily things - how many balls does one need to attend anyways? I love your prose and will say that Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish has been my favorite so far. I can't wait to read the novella!

  6. Loved your post, Grace! I went to a local historical house where they had published an article about the number of women who had died from wearing the restrictive corsets, how bad it was on the internal organs and ribs. Truly sad. I'd have to have been an old farm hand and would never have managed being a "lady."

  7. Misty, thanks much for those words of encouragement. Don't forget that "Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight" is going to hit the shelves October 1.

    Marti--yeah, and I read one lady who said by the time she left boarding school (where she was cinched one inch tighter every month her first year), her waist was thirteen inches. No wonder women broke ribs, punctured lungs and died as a result. Ghoulish!

    Terry, you said it: Sad, and who would have thought something as small as a metal grommet might might such a difference?

    We have come a long, long, way.

  8. Wow! I loved reading this (big surprise). It makes me want to write in the Georgian Era, which I've been wanting to do for some time. The styles of dress give a whole new meaning to suffer for fashion, though. Or maybe that's where the phrase originated?

  9. Recently, I had the chance to visit Chatsworth in Derbyshire. There, I found a dream come true. It was a Gainsborough of The Duchess of Devonshire, Georgina (Which the movie the Duchess with Keira Knightly was based on.) I was in tears as it was a painting I had always dreamed about seeing. It is very much in the style of the painting you have of the three young ladies on this blog. Amazing, really, how different ladies of that time period lived. How values were so different. In some ways I am glad I am from today. Though, when I read a historical book be it romance or documentary, for that small brief moment in time, I almost wish I was there, with the character, seeing smelling feeling tasting LIVING their life. Then reality returns and I am ever so grateful for deodorant and toothpaste! -Ti Colluney

  10. Shana, I don't think the Georgian ladies had it so bad, nor the Regency ladies, but ye gods, the high Victorian, at least among the middle classes, must have been hard--until the Rational Dress Society provided a countervailing weight.

    Ti--Would love to see Chatsworth, but not so sure I'd be cool with a duke who set my best friend up as his mistress under my very roof--particularly when he suffered no censure for it.

  11. As a fan of your Regency books, I look forward to hearing how it all started with Percival & Esther. Dare we hope some of your secondary characters might dress with considerable flair - Georgian style?

  12. Hi Grace!

    I actually haven't read that many stories set in the Georgian period. Regency has always been the go to and I guess more widely available when I am looking for a historical romance. I am definitely envious of the fashion too:)

    CONGRATS on your upcoming release... November isn't too far off!

  13. I enjoy all the details and research that must go into these stories. I like variety so it's exciting to read all the different time periods. Wasn't Scarlet's waist even smaller lol. I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories!


  14. Fascinating post and research.


  15. I don't think I would have fared too well living in a time other than the one I was born into. Those clothes sound torturous! Never mind breathing! ;-)

  16. Diana, I did have fun with some of the ladies who were NOT destined to catch Lord Percival's eye--I couldn't resist using the hairstyles to express character. Bad of me. And yes, I put one unsavory fellow in patches and powder--also bad of me. Maybe I'll redeem them as a couple in some other novella.... ?

    Yadkny, I'm a Regency-phile, too, but it was nice to write in a time before the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, before George III was incapacitated by illness, and before a love match lost its novelty. I guess every age has its advantage.

    Catslady, I think Scarlett dressed to sixteen inches, in the book. I hope Vivian Leigh was spared that fate.

    Tamara, the clothes weren't that oppressive until the high Victorian, and even then, the Queen herself didn't go in for huge hoops, tight corsets, and steel crinolines. Of course, she had nine children in less than twenty years, so maybe her priorities lay somewhere besides high fashion.

  17. Hi Grace,
    Although I love the Regency, it's fun to read stories set in other eras. I'm looking forward to reading your Georgian story, I'm sure I'll love it. :D

  18. Barbara, I didn't realize how much a break from the Regency would perk me up until I started writing Scottish Victorians. Ye gods! Locomotives, telegraphs, American heiresses--what fun!
    The Georgian period was just as much fun, having a more relaxed attitude about somethings than their Regency children or Victorian grandchildren had.

  19. Hello! I just had the wonderful opportunity to read "Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight" and loved it! I now have to go back and look for the previous Windham tales (although finding the time to read them may take a little doing)., I don't like having my (unfortunately spreading) waist constricted, I like to be able to sit in comfort although I guess it would probably have improved my poor posture if I was subjected to that style of dressing when I was younger!