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Writing Regency Widows with Emily Greenwood
I’ve been wanting to write a Regency widow’s story for a while, and with Eliza in HOW TO HANDLE A SCANDAL, I finally got my chance. Why a widow? The short answer is freedom, independence, and knowledge.
In a number of ways, a Regency widow had more of the freedom to act on her own that women of today enjoy, which makes her potentially more easy for modern readers to identify with. One of the most frustrating creativity-stimulating aspects of writing about young, unmarried Regency ladies is the unwritten social code of the time. Ah, those Regency rules! It’s fun to figure out how to either play within the rules or break them, and I love writing about young ladies just discovering courting and kisses. But the challenging reality for a romance writer is that single young ladies in the early 1800s weren’t supposed to be alone with men. So how will they kiss? Or have the kinds of intimate, relationship-building encounters that we all want to see them have? It can’t all happen during a chaperoned tea party.
A widow, excitingly, wasn’t held to the same strict standards, and it wasn’t an instant scandal if she was with a man on her own. So, possibilities!
And then there’s the issue of independence. When a Regency woman married, she became part of a single unit whose head was her husband, which meant that she gave up her legal status as an individual. She also gave up control of her money, land, and other assets she brought to the marriage. Not the most appealing scenario for a modern woman, and wickedly, some of us give a silent cheer whenever one of those fictional Regency ladies is liberated from an unfulfilling marriage. Once a husband died, a widow regained the rights she’d lost at marriage. She could once again own property, she could inherit property from her husband, and any property she’d brought into the marriage would revert to her.
Is it any wonder that many widowed women chose not to remarry?
Eliza, the heroine of HOW TO HANDLE A SCANDAL, thinks she’s going to be one of those happily single widows. Deemed a scandal during her first Season, she marries a kind, serious man in an attempt to remake herself into a more virtuous person. When he dies after a few years, she’s sorry to lose him but grateful for everything he gave her. Now independent and with money and a house of her own, Eliza’s looking forward to a fulfilling, meaningful life as a single woman.
Everything’s going according to plan until Tommy Halifax, one of the casualties of her scandalous Season, returns to England after being gone for six years. He’s incredibly handsome and dashing, and all the ladies of the ton are whispering about how swashbuckling he is, and suddenly Eliza’s long-repressed temptation to be scandalous is beckoning.
Which leads to the other fun thing about widows in the Regency, at least as far as a romance writer is concerned: knowledge. Having been married meant that even if a woman had had an unsatisfying sex life with her husband, or a bad one, or even none at all, no one expected her to be innocent. Which is why when Eliza decides that she needs to visit a high-class brothel for an important reason, she convinces herself that it won’t be too much of a disaster if she’s discovered there because she’s a widow.
Fortunately, it turns out that Eliza is wrong, and disaster does loom, though for completely unexpected reasons, and she’s not going to stay a widow for long. But though the last thing she wants is to marry again, this time she’s choosing the perfect man—she just doesn’t know it yet.Giveaway
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How to Handle a Scandal by Emily Greenwood
The Scandalous Sisters, Book 2
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
About the Book
THEY THOUGHT THE DEBUTANTE WAS SCANDALOUS
Miss Elizabeth Tarryton was the toast of the London Season the year she was seventeen and spurned young Tommy Halifax. A careless flirt who didn't know what she wanted, she was startled into laughter by his public proposal of marriage. Furious and heartbroken, Tommy promptly left home for a life of adventure in India.
IF THEY ONLY KNEW ABOUT THE WIDOW
Seven years later, Elizabeth has much to make up for, but the methods she chooses for doing good are as shocking as her earlier wanton behavior--should the ton ever find out. Tommy returns to England a hero, with no intention of allowing himself to be hurt by a woman ever again, but he's fascinated nonetheless by Elizabeth, now widowed and more alluring than ever.
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About the Author
Emily Greenwood worked for a number of years as a writer, crafting newsletters and fundraising brochures, but she far prefers writing playful love stories set in Regency England, and she thinks romance novels are the chocolate of literature. A Golden Heart finalist, she lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters.
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