We are happy to have Grace Burrowes at Smexy today to celebrate her release of Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight.
The marriage of convenience holds pride of place as one of the most venerable Regency plot devices, and has seen service among paranormal authors, and even some contemporary category writers. I made glancing use of it in Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight, though of course, true love has to go and bollix up that plan by about page 50.
Is the marriage of convenience just a pretext to present the reader with some Hot Stranger Sex? Is it an historical artifact, like bleeding somebody already ailing, that we’re fascinated with even as we’re horrified? Something in between?
I had occasion to ask somebody about this, who had first hand knowledge of the arranged marriage. He was a graduate student in the same master’s program I was pursuing, and was heading back to the old country for his wedding. He’d never met his bride, had never seen her, and would not see much beyond her eyes until their wedding night.
He was anticipating the married state eagerly, and had no qualms about spending the rest of his life with a stranger. I asked how he could possible, conceivably, etc., resign himself to such a situation, and the look he gave me was both tolerant and pitying.
He explained to me that the search for a mate was largely conducted by the mamas. This fellow had no doubt that his mother loved him dearly and wanted to see him happy. He was equally confident that his prospective wife’s parents were concerned for her happiness, and that they had politely investigated every aspect of his life before entering negotiations.
In his culture, family was not mom/dad/kids, but rather, a vast army of third and fourth cousins and other relations we don’t even have words for in English. He numbered his family at something close to a 1,000, and every single person in his family—and in the bride’s family—could be counted on to collect matchmaking data.
He, by contrast, was horrified to think of having to make a selection on his own—with little experience of the opposite sex, little ability to research a complete stranger’s family background, and divorce statistics suggesting the love match was a very risky enterprise indeed.
Then too, as this fellow delicately put it, “you are lonely, and she is lonely too.” The prospective spouse loomed as the solution to a lifetime’s worth of loneliness, and thus gained attractiveness on general principles.
As he spoke, I was struck with the parallels to Regency society: A young man was forbidden to even address a woman by her Christian name unless he was family or fiancé to her, and the young ladies were legendarily sheltered. The Upper Ten Thousand all knew each other, and had interbred for generations, much like the extended families of my friend’s traditional society. Then too, divorce was unthinkable, as it remains for many in traditional societies, and for the Regency ladies at least, their spouse was their only prayer of erotic pleasures and children.
In that context, the marriage carefully arranged by the mamas makes more sense to me, though as an author, I’m still likely to exploit its potential for Hot Stranger Sex or—as Georgette Heyer did—for domestic comedy.
And when it was my turn to take a husband? I did the choosing, thank you very much, and was much comforted to know I was his choice as well.
What about you? Would you like a say in your offspring’s choice of mate?
LADY LOUISA’S CHRISTMAS KNIGHT BY GRACE BURROWES – IN STORES OCTOBER 2012
‘Tis the Season for Scandal…
Years ago Lady Louisa Windham acted rashly on a dare from her brother, and that indiscretion is about to come to light. She knows her reputation will never survive exposure. Just as she’s nearly overwhelmed by her dilemma, Sir Joseph Carrington offers himself to her as a solution…
But Sir Joseph has secrets as well, and as he and Louisa become entangled with each other, their deceptions begin to close in on them both…
Praise for RITA-nominated Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish:
“An extraordinary, precious, unforgettable holiday story.” —RT Book Reviews, 4½ stars, Top Pick of the Month, Best Historical Romance, RT Book Reviews 2011 Reviewers’ Choice Awards
“My Christmas wish for you is that Santa brings you this book…a joyful sensual read.” —USA Today Happy Ever After
“Supremely sexy, emotionally involving, and graced with well-written dialogue…a fascinating, enjoyable read.” —Library Journal
“Burrowes continues to write outside the usual Regency box with strong characters and humor similar to Amanda Quick’s.” —Booklist
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace Burrowes is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances. Her debut, The Heir, was selected as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for 2010 in the romance category, and Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish won RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Romance of 2011 and was also nominated for the prestigious RWA RITA award. The author of the bestsellers The Heir, The Soldier and Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Grace is a practicing attorney and lives in rural Maryland. She’ll conclude to the Windham Family Series with Lady Jenny’s story in October 2013, and will begin a new regency series with Darius in April 2013. Grace has also begun a Scottish Victorian series, with The Bridegroom Wore Plaid hitting stores this December! Please visit http://www.graceburrowes.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @GraceBurrowes for more information.