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.