As a writer of hot, mostly erotic, romances in historic settings, I need to research a lot of ways for my characters to indulge their needs without breaking their social norms. Since Regency etiquette severely restricted the opportunities for sex among all classes except maybe the lowest, invention and inspiration need to go hand in hand to make a story believable. Also, a writer must use creative license sparingly.
The first novel by Mary Balogh I encountered was Snow Angel. A widow and a single gentleman are stranded together during a fierce snowstorm. The sexual tension is high and leads, of course, to a brief affair. With almost no servants around to see, they keep their passion out of the eyes of society. A very nice way to arrange things. And a nice build-up to the rest of the story.
Jane Austen barely hinted at any of her characters being sexually active. Propriety levels in her day, especially if one expected to be published, were extremely high. I believe that has given rise to all the Austen inspired stories about Darcy and Elizabeth’s married life and many other wonderful glimpses of Jane’s worlds. GoodReads lists 484 books in the category Jane Austen Fan Fiction. I’m not sure if all of them indulge in sex scenes that were taboo in Regency England, but this one got a review that claims to have been done with it all by the third one that showed up a third of the way through the read.
Georgette Heyer hinted more at the sexual desires of her protagonists and antagonists, most notably in These Old Shades and its sequel, The Devil’s Cub. Part of Shades involves a young woman disguising herself as a boy to escape harassment and kidnapping and other horrible fates. In her contemporary story, Instead of the Thorn, she took a daring chance and wrote about a new bride’s horrible experience with her older husband on their wedding night. As with many pioneers, this opened the way for other women writers to approach the topic. Personal note, Ms. Heyer wrote her last Regency novel the year I graduated from high school and passed away two years or so after that. I missed being able to meet her by a few years.
In my own self-published Regencies, Regency Banquet, Appetizer: Pure Seduction, I use the old trick of having my heroine dress as a boy. She blackmails her brothers to take her to a gentleman’s club, but they, in turn, trick her and take her to a whore house. There is a good deal of sex in this setting, a bit of it in the gardens at a ball, and then a wedding night.
I got a little more serious in the second Regency Banquet book, Entree: Pure Captivation. This story started out with a scene I envisioned of the hero being chained up in a cellar and the pretty woman coming to seduce him. It didn’t work out for the whole idea and now is a might have been at the back of my mind. The hero, the eldest brother in the first book, still gets badly injured and is rescued by the woman and her relatives. They are trying to get to England and away from anyone wanting to behead aristocrats.
The last book in the trilogy should be finished and posted any day now. The younger brother realizes he’s in love with his cousin when she is kidnapped and goes to rescue her. She has nearly rescued herself, except she is lost in the sewers under the house where she had been held. In their relief at finding each other, they do indulge in their passions. Love in the sewers leads to a happy ending.
Overall, creating a time and place in history for heroes and heroines to have sex is a fun aspect of writing explicit Regency Romances. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.