07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Past Entertainments

I love the Regency period and the activities the peerage indulged in. In particular, for men, the hunting season was eagerly anticipated. The traditional end of the London Season was considered the Glorious Twelfth of August, which marks the beginning of the shooting season. Society would retire to the country to shoot birds during the autumn and hunt foxes during the winter, before coming back to London again with the spring.

It’s pretty obvious that to chase foxes, and hunt game of any kind, you had to have a large country estate, hence why hunting was a sport for the wealthy. Those who did not have the means to own such large estates, were ever hopeful to be invited to join a shooting party at a wealthy man’s hunting lodge. Remember, hunting on someone else’s land was considered poaching (theft), and the penalties for such activities were severe, sometimes resulting in deportation or even hanging.

Just the name ‘hunting lodge’ sets a vivid picture in my mind of cool autumn days, big log fires and men playing billiards after dinner. For the bastion of gentry, a hunting lodge was seen as a necessity. What else were you to do with your time when the London social season finished? They had to have something to do with their time.

In my soon to be released on 16 August, A TASTE OF SEDUCTION (book #5 in my Disgraced Lords series), my hero, Lord Hadley Fullerton, owns a hunting lodge in Surrey. As the second son of the Duke of Claymore, Hadley was left Lathero by his grandfather. However, he used part of the large estate to grow grapes and make sparkling wine. Why? Because he needed an escape from life when the love of his life married another, breaking his heart.

I have based Hadley’s home on Cranborne Manner, in Dorset, Southern England. The Manor is the home of Viscount Cranborne, the eldest son of the 7th Marquess of Salisbury. Isn’t it lovely. It really sparked my imagination as to what it must be like to sit in the drawing room with a brandy in hand and a roaring fire in the grate against the cold.

The original Manor house was built as a royal hunting lodge for King John in the 12th century. Cranborne Chase was a royal hunting ground from at least the time of William the Conqueror until the 17th century.

In 1604 the Manor and its surrounding land was acquired by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of
Salisbury and Chief Minister to Queen Elizabeth I and James II. Under the 2nd Earl, in 1647, the west wing was remodelled by Captain Ryder, an associate of Inigo Jones. At the beginning of the 17th century the garden was laid out by Mounten Jennings and John Tradescant who supplied many of the original plants.

The estate consists of a 3,000 acre in hand farm and over 1,700 acres of woods, as well as the park and gardens.

Hadley has used many acres to grow his grapes and after five years has begun to produce very good wines. The duty on French brandy and wines during the Napoleonic wars and shortly after, also saw the rise in sparkling wine produced in England.

One of the first men to plant commercial vines in the UK was the Honorable Charles Hamilton, the 9th and youngest son of the Earl of Abercorn. As you can see, younger son’s had to make a living.
Charles created Painshill Place in Cobham, Surrey in 1738. Painshill is now run by a trust and you can still visit to see the wonderful gardens and follies he created. Included in the gardens were an Abby, a Roman temple, a Turkish tent, a Temple of Bacchus, a fantastic shell-filled grotto, a hermitage, and some Roman steps. The picture below is the vines planted near the Abby. By the late 18th century, Painshill was selling 6 variety of wines for 60 guineas a barrel (equivalent of 7,500 pounds in today’s terms). Highly profitable for it’s day.

The production of wine in England was, and still is fraught, with problems given the unpredictability of the weather. Hadley was a brave, if not a tad desperate man to try, but as he’s my hero and I love him, he does succeed—both in love and in viticulture.

A TASTE OF SEDUCTION releases 16th August (available for pre-order) and is a reunion or second chances story.

The flames of desire fuel a torrid reunion as bestselling author Bronwen Evans returns with another captivating novel of the Disgraced Lords. See why Jen McLaughlin raves, “Bronwen’s historical romances always make the top of my reading list!”

Lady Evangeline Stuart chose to wed a tyrant with a title, or so society believes. That was five years ago—five long years that she could have spent with her first and only love: Lord Hadley Fullerton, the second son of the Duke of Claymore. Now Evangeline is a widow, and her soul cries out for Hadley. But when they see each other at last, everything has changed. The passion in his eyes has been corrupted by betrayal. Somehow Evangeline must regain Hadley’s trust—without revealing the secret that would spoil the seduction.

Hadley is determined not to be distracted by Evangeline. He and the other Libertine Scholars are in pursuit of an enemy who has been striking at them from the shadows, and Evangeline’s mere presence could be dangerous. But with one smile, one touch, one taste of Evangeline’s lips, Hadley’s resolve is overpowered by far more pleasant memories. As the two enter into a discreet affair, Hadley vows to give her his body, never his heart. That, she will have to earn.

Here’s a snippet:

The doors to the garden were closed, so it wasn’t the roses that attracted her immediate attention. Instead she found her eyes drawn to a massive portrait hanging above the large fireplace. The painting was exquisite. You could almost see the willow’s branches waving in the breeze. The woman sitting under the tree was her, yet wasn’t her.

Evangeline had not seen this painting before, so it must have been painted after she had been abducted. The other clue was the way Hadley had portrayed her. She looked quite beautiful, her hair falling in waves around her bare shoulders, her profile exquisite, until you looked closer. Her eyes were cold and hard, her smile pure evil. The coldness and artifice made this woman, the woman who looked exactly like her, a stranger.

Evangeline drew in a deep breath. Someone in pain had painted the image; it was obvious in every stroke of the brush. He’d been so hurt, surely as hurt as she had been. She had to keep remembering that she wasn’t the only victim.

Torbet came to stand beside her as she gazed at the painting.

“He painted for months after you left. I think expressing his bitterness and hurt on canvas was cathartic for him. Unfortunately, as soon as he finished this he never painted again.”

“That is indeed a shame. He loved painting, and he was very good.”

Torbet nodded. “Perhaps now that you have returned he’ll start painting again.”

She looked once more at the portrait before her. “I hope so.” And she truly did. Painting had always soothed Hadley and filled his life. Torbet was the one who had seen his talent and nurtured it.
Taking leave of the butler, she made her way through the rose gardens, down past their special willow tree, and out the back gate to the small hilly fields behind the stable, where the land sloped down toward a stream.

She put her hand up to shield her eyes from the sun and drank in the beauty of the vineyard in front of her. She noted a few men working among the vines, yet only one man drew her eye . . . the man who stood in the middle of the farthest row, bent over working.

His coat was off, he wore no waistcoat, and his shirtsleeves were rolled up, revealing tanned arms. If not for the cut of his trousers and the innate presence about his person, he could have simply been another farm laborer.

As she watched, one of the men called to Hadley, indicating he was not doing something correctly. Hadley made his way to the worker’s side, allowing him to demonstrate—it looked like they were tying the vines to twine hung between the posts.

He didn’t notice her arrival, and she moved under one of the many willows lining the stream, into the deep shadows of the overhanging branches. The shade cooled the heat she felt at the knowledge that tonight she would be in the embrace of those strong tanned arms once again.

The men patiently showed Hadley how to prune the vines and tie them down. He worked alongside them, and when they handed him the pail of water, he drank from the ladle with the rest of them.
This was what she had always admired and loved about Hadley.

He was the son of a duke, yet he treated everyone with equal politeness, grace, and importance. No doubt his upbringing, watching his father behave worse than the lowest cad and brute, was at the heart of his ability to cross the barriers of the class system. He had always had an affinity for those less fortunate. That was probably why, when they’d met, he hadn’t minded that her family was poor, even though a second son, especially a second son of a duke, usually looked for a financially advantageous match.

She now understood how much he must have loved her to be willing to run away to Gretna Green. Did he love her still?

I hope you enjoy A Taste of Seduction because I loved writing Hadley’s story. Check out the reviews on Goodreads….

Do you enjoy second chance romances? What’s your favorite trope?


Judith Ashley said...

I enjoy all your stories, Bron...second chance or ??? This will be another 'must read'. I wasn't aware that the Napoleonic Wars gave impetus to England's wine business. My family (Rawson ancestory) has a connection with Australia's Penfolds Retreat brand.

Sarah Raplee said...

I love your posts about your research! Wonderful excerpt!

Bronwen Evans said...

Thanks Sarah and Judith. I loved history at school, it was my favorite subject, so I guess that's why I love writing historical romances. It's fun researching today because the internet makes it so easy. I'm not sure how it was done before the internet. It would have taken months of contacting the right people. Now all you need is to send an email...