I welcome back Jenna Jaxon, who has a spanking new historical romance in store for us!
The Dreaded Spinster (Or Why Kate Locke Won’t Have A 4th Season)
Today the word “spinster” is an outdated term for an unmarried woman, and in light of our current independent, feminist thinking, a derogatory term as well. This was true in Regency England as well, but for a rather different reason. Now we despair of judging women who have made a choice to live without the bonds of marriage. In the Regency, the term was fraught with pity for the woman to whom it was applied.
The original word comes from the usually unmarried girls in the 14th century who spun wool for a living. They were called, obviously, spinsters. But by the 18th century it had come to mean any woman who was unmarried after the normal age at which a woman was expected to marry. This age changes with each age’s sensibility: in the 14th century women normally married between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years old; by the Regency it was any woman over the age of twenty-one.
Women grew up knowing that their major duty in life was to marry and bear children. If they came from gentry or the aristocracy, they could not hold a job without a stigma being attached to them. The exceptions were positions of governess or companion to someone of the aristocracy, but they were still looked on unfavorably by Society. In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, the comment is made that unmarried women will lead apes in hell as punishment for not marrying. By the Regency era, the term “ape-leader” was common slang for an unmarried woman or spinster.
Girls were given three years, basically, in which to snare a husband. Three “Seasons” or summers of balls, parties, outings, all manner of ways for them to meet men and convince them to either fall in love, or that their dowry was sufficiently large enough to sway them to “come up to scratch” and propose. After the third Season, if they had not accepted a proposal from a gentleman, at the age of twenty-two they were considered “on the shelf” and not expected to marry, although it was only after they reached the age of thirty that they were declared a “hopeless” spinster.
In Heart of Desire, my heroine, Kate Locke, is in just such a dilemma. She’s in her third Season and realizes that she’s quarreled so much with gentlemen over the past two years, that all of them are avoiding her. All but one, that is. With her time running out, Kate has to decide whether she’d rather remain a spinster or accept the addresses of a man she cannot stand.
Follow your heart to find your desireMiss Katherine Locke is irked to start her third season dancing with the disagreeable Lord Haversham, her brother’s friend and her own arch enemy. After three years out, however, she’s finally interested in the dashing Lord Finley—only to find out her cousin has set her cap for him too. To make the man jealous, Kate feigns interest in Lord Haversham, only to be shocked to find the handsome lord apparently falling for her. With time running out, should she accept his suit and risk falling in love despite herself?
Marcus, Lord Haversham, is in a tight pinch. His estates are failing and worse, he’s just lost three thousand pounds to his best friend, Lord Ainsley. Ainsley’s solution: have Marcus marry his shrewish sister and he’ll cancel his gambling debt plus give him ten thousand more pounds for her dowry. With nowhere to turn, Marcus agrees, praying he can keep word of the wager from Miss Locke long enough to charm her into marrying him. But can he avoid falling in love himself?
The music had a lively air and Miss Katherine Locke would’ve thought herself fortunate to be out again in Society after a long, cold, dull winter in Somerset save that her partner, Lord Haversham, was the rudest man in London. Well, his lordship was about to discover that Kate Locke was not one to suffer fools lightly.
“So you refuse to allow your sister to waltz, yet you are quite willing to stand up with me and dance this, according to you, most scandalous of dances.” Kate smiled into the odious wretch’s face. “My lord, I should say that smacks of hypocrisy.”
“Indeed.” Lord Haversham turned them skillfully at the end of the floor. “I would say it showed a want of character in your brother for allowing you to dance it with me. The waltz should be danced by married couples and no one else.” He pulled her close against him, so their bodies almost touched.She gasped at her proximity to the rogue. How dare he make a spectacle of them on this crowded dance floor?
“You see?” he whispered, peering into her face, his gaze intent upon her mouth.All she could see were his cool gray eyes, as the crisp scent of his sandalwood cologne filled her nose.
“Ainsley should be horsewhipped for allowing it.”“I’ll see to it he horsewhips you if you don’t let me go.” Kate gave a hopping step and smashed her foot down on top of his.
Lord Haversham lurched forward, actually falling onto her.For the briefest moment, they stood pressed together in a warm embrace that made Kate tingle all over. Then outrage swept through her, and she pushed him away. “How dare you,” she seethed, trying to pull away from him.
“That was your fault, and you know it. And if you make a scene that results in me having to marry you, I swear I will lock you in the tower at my grandfather’s castle and throw away the key.” Lord Haversham righted himself and smiled at her with clenched teeth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling, multi-published author of historical romance in periods ranging from medieval to Victorian. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and two rambunctious cats, Marmalade and Suger. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and is very active in Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
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