Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We Are Not Our Parents

By Elle Q. Sabine (Guest Blogger)


Dear Readers,

I’ve always been fascinated by how societies functioned, whether liberal or repressive, Georgian or Victorian. For this reason, I was once an excellent history student when writing essays but with a terrible tendency to blank on the dates of important battles, names of battlefields, and the identities of the generals in charge of them. Thus, my performance on those tedious multiple choice tests was not terribly impressive.

One of the most fascinating changes in English society between the reign of George III and Queen Victoria was the evolution of sexual behaviour. In Georgian England, pornographic literature was common, homosexuality was publicly practiced despite anti-sodomy laws, and French letters (i.e. a non-latex condom made of sheep’s gut or chemically-treated linen tied on with a ribbon) were sold in public places and provided to soldiers. Fidelity was not necessarily assumed or expected, particularly after one’s heirs were born, and it was common practice for both wives and husbands to establish long-term relationships outside of marriage. None of these sexually liberated practices continued in full public view past the 1840s.

Why the change?

Certainly the old customs of arranged marriages (in the upper classes) were fading away, replaced with affectionate marriages at worst and the idealized relationship of a couple in love at best. But in the years following the Napoleonic Wars, there was also a real desire to improve. Families wanted better economic situations. They wanted security, safety, and stability. Revolutions in America and Europe had been aggravated by the excesses of Parisian nobility and the British military, and with the end of conflict and the patriotism that accompanied warfare, the aristocracy in Great Britain again had cause to be worried that they themselves might be driven from power.

Setting an example of hard work, sensible economy, and piety was eminently practical. The landed nobility had to both conserve and work to renew decades of declining wealth. They produced respectable families that the rising bourgeoisie of manufacturers and merchants could support through daughters and dowries. They established clear codes of conduct that they themselves had to model. They worried and worked to discourage rebellion and revolution.

In addition to these documented economic and political concerns, I believe the freedoms of the Georgian period impacted family life for generations after, and developing standards were, in part, the standard reaction of children to their parents: we are not like our parents.

My speculation is the basis of a series of novels about The Misbegotten Misses, four sisters who are ultimately forced to cope with the unintended consequences of their parents’ behavior. The first book, The Outcast Earl, tells the story of Lady Abigail de Rothesay, who finds herself in an unexpected engagement to an arrogant earl, primarily thanks to her father’s inability to manage money. The Outcast Earl is available as a VIP pre-release now (at a 10% discount!) and will have its general ebook release on December 10, with a tentative print release date of February 2013. The second book, The Rusticated Duchess, concerns Lady Gloria de Rothesay, and is set for release as an e-book in April 2013. I’m writing a third book now about Lady Fiona, and mulling over the fate of Lady Genevieve.

About The Outcast Earl

Abigail de Rothesay is to be married to a man known for his bad manners and foul humour. Resigned to her fate, she is fully capable of managing a gentleman’s home. Warwickshire will be lonely compared to London, but she can cope. After all, her mother and father are rarely seen together, even at meals. How much time does one have to spend with a spouse, anyway?

Charles, Earl of Meriden, has every intention of clinging to the side of his pretty, young bride. Drawn to her flirtatious mannerisms and her attractive person, he insists on Abigail’s time and attention, much as his mother was devoted to his father. Even more, he actively looks after Abigail, a state of affairs that has Abigail at a loss.

Even as they fight to come to an understanding about marriage both of them can accept, the couple will have to cope with the difficult consequences of their loved ones’ actions, and it may very well tear them apart.

[Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of male masturbation, erotic spanking, sexually charged disciplinary spanking, steamy oral sex, light bondage and offensive stubborn male possessiveness. There are also references to anal play and famous French paintings containing partially clothed women.]

Excerpt from The Outcast Earl

You can’t take me in there.” She shook her head frantically. “Those are your rooms!”

I know very well whose rooms they are,” he answered, kicking the door beside them open and shutting it firmly behind them with his heel. Without ceremony, he carried her over to the sofa in a small room that apparently served as a sitting room, and deposited her on the dark green velvet cushions before returning to the door and snibbing the lock, pointedly pocketing the key in his coat. “And in reply to your earlier comment,” he continued as fiercely as she had done, “you may not be subject to the whims of a governess, but you are damn well subject to my whims. And I will not accept blatant subversion of doctor’s orders and my directives because they do not suit you. Do you understand me?”

Abigail met his glare unflinchingly, but she stilled. Was he reacting to some perceived threat to her health, or was he one of those men who always had to be in control of their surroundings? Was his fury violent, or was he overtired from not sleeping?

I think,” she said, gathering every ounce of composure and reasonableness she possessed to put into the words, “that we have much to discuss before I would agree that I am subject to you at all, though I will certainly acknowledge it is one possibility. For the moment, I am still my father’s daughter and Aunt Betsy is both my chaperone and now my responsibility. I am the reason she is here, and if I cannot change the past and somehow prevent the accident or her injury, I can for certain nurse her back to health.”

Meriden shook his head, responding in kind to her calm. “No. If anyone is at fault, it is I. I allowed you to travel in your father’s carriage all this way, without considering that it would be in as poor a condition as the rest of his property. I should have arranged for you to use my own travelling coach. I hope that you will accept my apology for not considering the means by which he might convey you north, even for not escorting you myself. Indeed, I would hope that you accept my apology for not caring for you as I ought. It might seem a poor start, but I would ask for your consideration under the circumstances. As it happens, you are not only my first wife, you are also the first lady for whose welfare I am wholly responsible.”

Abigail blinked, her world tilting a bit. She had, of course, known her father could be criticised, but Winchester had never once apologised to her or her sisters—not even for the current debacle. She was equally convinced Winchester had never once apologised to her mother for anything. And yet this man all the women of London called a brooding monster did so unflinchingly, over a matter that was not completely within his purview.

It was my father’s responsibility,” she said after a long moment. “Not yours. No apology is necessary.”

Nevertheless, I will take better care in the future,” he murmured, still staring at her. “Because you are mine and in my care now, regardless of the formalities yet to be observed.”

Abigail drew a deep breath, trying to calm her inner nerves and save herself from whirling headfirst into a re-examination of what she had previously known to be true. “Fiddlesticks!” she eventually objected, frowning him down as he approached at her words. Challenging him to an argument over this notion of ownership did seem the best way to reinforce her earlier impression of selfish arrogance. She allowed her eyes to briefly graze over the scar along his jawbone as she reminded herself that they were essentially adversaries. “You can’t seriously expect me to believe that I am somehow chattel to be ordered about callously according to your moods and tempers, simply because we are expected to marry? If you believe such nonsense, I’m afraid you’ve picked the wrong female and should perhaps reconsider this ridiculous plan before it’s too late.”

I expect you are sensible enough to follow directions that are given for your own wellbeing, as we will marry,” he countered very carefully, sitting down as close to her as he could manage—so close that his breath raced across her cheek. “And I have not picked the wrong bride. To my mind, I couldn’t have found a more perfect one.”

Abigail turned her head to scoff, but he simply leaned closer and murmured in her ear, the warmth of his breath sliding over her neck and down her jaw, tempting her to shiver. “In any event, there is no going backward, even if I were not determined to have you permanently at my side. You’re here, alone with me, in my house. Your aunt is present, but she is insensible and cannot be thought of as a proper chaperone in the minds of the interfering biddies who dictate your public behaviour. Meanwhile, you are in my own private sitting room, gowned in nothing more than a nightdress, dressing gown and house slippers. In addition, you will likely be here for quite a while, alone with me, as you have already proven conclusively that you did not learn the skill of obedience during childhood.”

Suddenly short of breath, Abigail sat very still, but when Meriden leaned in to kiss her, she couldn’t help her instinctive response to flee.

She leapt to her feet and backed to the fire, rubbing her hands together uselessly in the warm room.

What did I just finish telling you?” Meriden barked, reaching for her and grabbing her wrist before she could flit farther away. “If you try to walk on that ankle again tonight, I swear I’m going to turn you over my knee and paddle you for behaving like a silly child.” He grabbed her by the waist and lifted her, setting her squarely on his knees, locking one arm around her to hold her there.

You wouldn’t!” Abigail gasped, unable to think of anything more profound on such short notice, and trying desperately to squelch the traitorous part of her gut that seemed to respond more dramatically every time he touched her. She didn’t know what she was feeling, but now was not the time or place to work it out.

Instead, she lifted her hand to push him away but he simply growled, “It’s either that, or this—” Then he slid his free hand around to the back of her head, and set his lips to hers. 
 
Abigail had been kissed before, of course. She was twenty-one and had spent more than three full years in London society. While not the Winchester sister to inspire lust from the masses, she was certainly eligible, and had attracted her fair share of more serious, reserved men who were not attracted to the glamorous Gloria or the voluptuous, young Genevieve. Kissing, she had advised her younger siblings, was an art. Some men had practiced, did it well, considered little things like how they tasted and whether their partner could still breathe. 
Other men had no skill at all, and no interest in acquiring any. They pushed, suffocated, forced and followed it up with self-important pride. It had not taken Abigail more than a few brief experiences to decide that any man in the second group could be gently eased in the direction of some more desperate girl. Abigail had no interest in a man who used kissing as a means to press more invasive intimacies on the female. Men who were patently disinterested in pleasing a partner with something as simple as a kiss could not be expected to do so in any more important pursuit, and were therefore not worth considering.

Abigail was fairly certain Gloria had deliberately ignored Abigail’s opinion on the subject.

With such a preconceived opinion, Abigail tensed as Meriden touched his mouth to hers. Should he turn out so early on to be an insensitive clod, Abigail knew she would have difficulty with following through on the engagement, no matter the consequences. She’d have preferred to ease into such intimacy after she had learnt whether to guard against him or not. Nevertheless, she stilled and tried to take in the sensation of his lips rubbing over hers.

He was not gentle, precisely, but neither did he plunder selfishly. No, his mouth worshipped her lower lip, then the upper one, learning the shape and size of her mouth before he eased his tongue just inside her lower lip to taste her.

Meriden was definitely not one of the untrained, inconsiderate brutes. She closed her eyes, softened against the arm that surrounded her waist and leaned closer, her lips tingling in a rush of sensation where his tongue stroked hers.

He caught her fingers with his free hand, where she had pushed futilely against his chest. Trapping her hand in place, he murmured, their lips still touching, “I would, you know.”

Abigail breathed a soft sigh. “Would what?” she asked, a bit wobbly from the unexpected rush of warmth that had ripped up her spine with the kiss. She’d forgotten what he had said.

I would spank you. Paddle you, if I had to,” Meriden repeated in a husky whisper against her mouth. He ran his hand up from her waist to tangle it in the hair at the back of her head, and instead of the indignant reaction Abigail felt was required, she leaned in closer, shivering when Meriden used his lips to examine the corners of her mouth in an exquisite intimacy.

More of Elle and The Outcast Earl?

I can be found on Twitter as @elleqsabine or reached by e-mail at elleqsabine[at]gmail[dot]com. I occasionally write in a blog at http://elleqsabine.wordpress.com. Visit to find more information about my writing, free serial fiction, and (soon!) background material from The Misbegotten Misses.

Readers can purchase now The Outcast Earl from Total-e-bound directly, or visit their favorite online retailer for the e-book version of this book after December 10. 

Meanwhile - I'm giving away an ebook version of the novel to one lucky person who comments on this post! Please include your email address so that I can find you.

Thank you!
Elle

10 comments:

Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Elle!

Welcome to Beyond Romance, and thanks for the fantastic post. Abigail is a fabulous character.

I wish you great sales with all the Misbegotten Misses.

Debbie said...

Lovely cover! This is an interesting subject, it is true we are not our parents, but look back in history and see that the excesses that were a problem then are a problem now. Are we doomed to repeat history over and over? The book sounds great, happy sales! Debbie

Anonymous said...

I always think there is nothing new in the world, just how we view it. The excerpt was great, good luck with the series, sounds a winner!

Suze
Littlesuze at hotmail dot com

laura troxel said...

I love finding new authors and books. I just started reading historical romances. The book sounds really good. Cant wait to read it.
lauratroxel@yahoo.com

Jean MP said...

A very interesting post, how society has changed through the years. Always enjoy finding new authors to me, enjoyed the excerpt, sounds like a wonderful book.
skpetal at hotmail dot com

SHARON BAKER said...

We are definately not our parents. Mine were very strict on how we kids acted during our growing up days. Now kids seem to fend for themselves. I think if we could be a little more like our parents there would not be as much crime in the world.

slpetera@yahoo.com

Colleen said...

Thanks for sharing with us today Elle! I enjoy adding new authors to my list to read! Sounds like a very interesting book & series.

greenshamrock AT cox DOT net

elleqsabine said...

Lisabet,

Thank you so much for having me today! I really appreciate your encouragement and advice.

Elle (LOL, no, I'm not in the running for a free copy)

pc said...

Great excerpt...this sounds like a wonderful book! Love the snippet about how our views change in each generation---this is one of the things I love about reading historicals because it's how life went on with as many restrictions and rules that they had.
thanks for sharing...putting this on my must read and going to check it out!
ivegotmail8889(at)yahoo(dot)com

elleqsabine said...

All,
Congratulations to Laura Troxel, who won the free copy of The Outcast Earl. The ebook version is now available on the Total-e-bound website. Thanks to everyone who commented. (Laura, check your e-mail.)
Elle

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