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word “spinster” is an outdated term for an unmarried woman, and in light of our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
, 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 desire

Miss 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

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.

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
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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