Thanks for having me on your site, Anna.
My romance time period is called Americana; it’s Victorian really but set in America. I recently wrote a prequel, An Intriguing Proposition, after the fact, as another of your guests did, Kae Elle Wheeler. I backed up the years a little from the first of my three books in the Defiant Hearts series, An Improper Situation.
Because An Intriguing Proposition is novella length, about 25,000 words, the story stays firmly in one city, Boston. My other books have a lot of travel in them as my characters crisscross the country, usually by steam train and occasionally on horseback.
To contain the story to Boston, I had to refresh my memory on the city itself, which was also featured in Book 1. I took another look at the geography, the street names, Beacon Hill in particular where the heroine’s home is, as well as the financial district because my hero works in a bank.
Once again, I was struck by the modernity of these city folk over a century ago, juxtaposed with their antiquated set of manners and mores. They lived by rules that seem so arbitrary to us in the 21st century but were nearly unbreakable to them. Of course, most of my characters consciously break rules but usually with the highest good in mind.
Take Elise, the heroine and oldest sister in the Malloy family, featured in Books 1 and 2, as well as in Book 4, which I’m currently working on. Elise is not necessarily a rule breaker and definitely not improper. When she wants to meet a man, she asks her father to discern his status and availability, and would never think of approaching the man herself. However, as the oldest sibling, she feels a responsibility to her family, which causes her to act more like the “man of the house” than she otherwise would, after her father passes.
She does ride out unaccompanied in her carriage, which is a little risqué. However, it’s the simple act of hiding an important letter and handling family business at a bank—business that ought to be taken care of by her brother—which sets her apart. She begins a process that leads her to deception, being blackmailed, and finally, true love.
In the course of the story, the small but important rules are constantly skirted, adhered to, or ignored entirely. Elise would never intend to be alone with a man, but it happens anyway, much to her consternation and eventual delight. Names and the formality of them is very important in this time period. What you called someone depended on your relation, gender, acquaintance, and familiarity. Surnames were a must, nearly until marriage. Therefore, Elise’s hero, Michael, is quite affronted when their nemesis calls her “Elise” instead of “Miss Malloy.”
Naturally, this being America and not Victorian England, the rules are a tad relaxed in my stories; otherwise, as the author, I’d need to spend too much time explaining etiquette on every page. For example, my characters give out a few calling cards but not to the extent that they were used in Victorian England, with two to three family cards given out at every meeting, gathering, party, or visit.
As I conclude this post and stand up, all the gentlemen present must stand, the ladies may remain seated as I take my leave. Since I arrived first, I must leave first, and I will keep my hands at my sides and never put them behind my back. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Latest release: An Intriguing Proposition By Sydney Jane Baily
Following her father’s untimely death, eldest daughter Elise Malloy discovers that the family home is collateral for a mysterious loan. With no record of payments made from her father’s accounts, whoever was paying the bank has now stopped, and foreclosure is imminent. Desperate to keep the news from her grieving, funds-starved family, Elise answers the bank summons and faces Michael Bradley, an old flame who still owns her heart. When Michael extends an unseemly dinner invitation, Elise invents a nameless suitor as an excuse.
Now, to save face, she must produce him. Jonathan Amory, Esquire, seems the perfect choice, until her long-desired relationship with Michael unexpectedly catches fire, and Jonathan makes it clear he will stop at nothing to destroy her family and lock her into a loveless marriage.
Available in print and ebook.
Links for all Sydney’s books are in one convenient location at http://www.ebookdiscovery.com/SydneyjaneBaily.html
(Psst. If you like the look of my website, you can thank Sydney. She designed it!)