Bronwen Evans is taking her writing to a new direction: contemporary. You know her as the author of the Wicked Wagers novellas as well as her debut series, Invitation to Romance (Invitation to Ruin and Invitation to Scandal). Today, she is sharing with us a few differences between the genres when it comes to writing them. And of course, a little excerpt from The Reluctant Wife.
WELCOME BACK TO THE BLOG BRONWEN!!!
New Zealander Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She’s always indulged her love for story-telling, and is constantly gobbling up movies, books and theatre. Her head is filled with characters and stories, particularly lovers in angst. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer?
She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Her debut Regency romance, Invitation to Ruin won the RomCon 2012 Readers Crown Best Historical and was an RT Reviewers’ Choice Nominee Best First Historical 2011. To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield was a FINALIST in the Kindle Book Review Indie Romance Book of the Year 2012. Her first Entangled Publishing Indulgence release is The Reluctant Bride.
Bronwen loves hearing from avid romance readers at email@example.com
Connect with Bronwen: Author Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Street Team
Hi Kati and Jamie
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to pop by and talk with readers about my latest release, and surprise, surprise, it’s NOT a historical romance. THE RELUCTANT WIFE (Dec 2012 Entangled Publishing Indulgence) is my first contemporary romance, and I’m very excited, and nervous!
It’s great fun writing across genres, however, it does mean I have to concentrate and remember which world I’m in – the past or the present…
Shall I tell you about some of the differences I encounter when writing contemporary romances rather than my normal Regency historicals?
1. Plot Devices
When writing a Regency historical, plots can be larger than life. Cruelty and injustice ran rampant, with little or no mercy for the weak. Crimes often went unsolved and unpunished because there was no such thing as forensics. With no phones, instant email etc there was no way you could easily track people. The class system often led to unquestioning obedience and men who thought they were above the law. Therefore, you can write fabulous suspense plot lines.
In a modern day contemporary you have to contend with the advances in forensic technology, and tracking technology i.e. you can trace vehicle and mobile phone locations. You can get print outs of bank or ATM withdrawals. You have social security numbers and passport controls, birth records, teeth and fingerprinting and now DNA results. Your identity can be checked in minutes. You can do paternity tests for instance. Back in the 1800’s the only paternity test was whether a child looked like its father! Which led to a lot of heartache if they didn’t, because no one understood about genetics. You can look nothing like either of your parents, or more like one parent in particular.
Regency – Desist from pestering me at once. Please take your leave.
Contemporary –You’re bugging me. F@&k off!
That’s an exaggerated example of the difference in speech. However, one of the hardest differences for a writer is the use of contractions. I have to keep remembering to use contractions to shorten the words in my contemporaries. Language was more formal in the 1800’s.
Lady Carthorse would have screamed if she had seen Charlotte …
Mrs. Cooke would’ve screamed if she’d seen Rebecca…
Do you see?
In addition, you have to ensure you don’t use modern words in a Regency, such as vehicles. Has to be a carriage or horse or mode of transportation.
Swearing was also very different. Ladies of the ton did not use bad language in Regency times, it was considered unladylike – or at least it was frowned upon. A young lady would be ostracized if she said bloody or bugger or shit in public.
Regency’s are genuinely set in England, with London being very prominent as it was the centre of the social season. Lucky for me, I lived in England for about seven years in the nineties and I did loads of travelling around England. I visited large estates and castles so I have a fair idea of what they look like and how life was back in the 1800’s. I’m also aware of the class system which is still a reality in England. I understand how powerful Society can be.
Contemporary romances can be set anywhere. Travel is easy with planes, trains and cars. It doesn’t take you weeks to get anywhere. The Reluctant Wife is set in Florence, Italy and the hero, Dante, is an Italian Conte (I couldn’t quite leave my arrogant nobility behind). Italy was my favourite country when I went travelling around Europe. I have visited the country several times. I love the people, the culture, the food and of cause the fashions.
Speaking of fashion, of course clothing was very different. While it’s easy to remember the differences, you have to be conscious of the clothing when writing certain scenes. For instance making love with layers of petticoats, corsets and stays on is quite tricky. It did however allow for great foreplay.
In Regency times it was difficult to glimpse any part of a woman’s body, except in ball gowns where plenty of breast was shown. So it’s fun when you read about the hero getting all hot and bothered because he’s glimpsed a pretty ankle of calf. With women now wearing bikini’s etc that seems so funny!
Sex also has to be handled differently. Men, or Lord’s in the Regency era, were totally promiscuous. The term rakehell was often used. They thought nothing of keeping mistresses and visiting prostitutes. Women, or ladies, were expected to have spotless reputations. Virginal is the word. No sex before marriage or they were ruined. If a lord compromised a lady, he had to do the honorable thing and marry her.
In contemporaries the attitudes to sex are different. A hero would hardly be heroic if he used prostitutes and mistresses are no longer common. Women can be far more sexually experienced and there is no longer stigma attached if they are not virginal. There are no double standards.
Although there was nothing like aids in 1800, there were other sexually transmitted diseases, the worst syphilis, had no cure and it could kill you. However, the biggest risk for women was pregnancy. Contraception was basically non-existent. French letters did exist but were seldom used. Woman relied on sponges soaked in vinegar or brandy inserted to stop conception and usually failed miserably.
When I write a Regency historical I usually write about the upper classes, peers of the realm and Society. That being the case, there were few occupations besides land owner for the head of the family. It was unseemly to be seen to work for one’s living.
Second and third son’s usually had a profession such as the military, or the clergy. Ladies did not work at all. Only the lower classes worked in order to survive, and for woman that often meant taking a job in the world’s oldest profession—prostitution. In my book, Invitation to Scandal, I created an unusual heroine, Rheda Kerrich, the daughter of a Baron, as she refused to marry to obtain her financial security, and instead became a smuggler.
Nowadays, thankfully, women enjoy the ability to work across all occupations. This makes it easier to develop and show a character. People change and develop through their work and work relationships. In fact, I focused on this point in The Reluctant Wife. Dante married to start a family, while his wife wanted something more.
In the 1800’s men and women did not have the social freedom we have now. Men couldn’t simply ring up and ask you out for coffee or for dinner. If a man was interested in wooing a lady, there were protocols to follow. Men could not dance more than one dance with any particular woman. To dance more than two dances was a declaration that a serious proposal would be forthcoming. He would have to ask her father if he could court her, and he needed her guardian’s (father, brother, uncle) permission to wed her. Once a man proposed, he could not honourably break the engagement. Only a woman could, and she had to have a very good reason or she’d be socially outcast.
There were no divorces in the Regency era. Couples could chose to live separate lives and most did given many marriages were more like business arrangements to better families social, political and finance standings. Unless specifically provided for in wills, women did not own property. Any property or wealth became their husbands upon marriage. Women in general had very little rights.
Obviously times have changed, thank goodness! Women can be as wealthy and as powerful as men. This gives me more plot devices and character traits to develop when writing contemporary romances that I don’t have in a historical.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ve included a snippet from The Reluctant Wife. It demonstrates how much freedom we have in the modern world quite distinctly…
He wished it wasn’t so. He purposely kept away from her, trying to deny and destroy those tender feelings. Sighing, he wished for a lot of things. He wished… He didn’t want to face what he wished for. He was a realist.
He wanted the deal with Zanetti, needed it. If something happened to him, with the merging of the two companies, the Lombardi empire would be untouchable. He’d have protected all his family and his employees, while ensuring his father’s legacy. With an angry tug, he loosened his tie and pulled it from his neck, walking through the house like an exhausted man who thought he had crossed the finish line of the marathon, only to learn he still had one more lap of the circuit to run. He felt defeated and for once he wondered if he was doing the right thing.
With more force than necessary, Dante removed his gold cuff links and threw them on the sideboard. He was tempted to pour himself a large brandy, but it was only one in the afternoon. He shouldn’t drink—he needed a clear head tonight to get both of them through this dinner where they would be put under the spotlight. Ignoring the alcohol sitting in the decanter, he made his way through the villa, nodding to Pietro as he neared the sun terrace.
“The contessa is swimming, and your mother has taken Mrs. Taylor for a drive and to visit friends.” Pietro’s words were followed by an insinuating smile.
Dante’s pulse kicked up a gear. He was alone in the house with Abby. No mother, sisters, or grandmother.
“Not until six. You have at least four hours. I’ve persuaded Rachele to accompany me to the markets for supplies. We will be gone all afternoon, too.”
“Remind me to pay you a bonus, Pietro,” Dante said to his smiling majordomo.
Images of how he’d like to spend the afternoon immediately assailed his mind. They needed to connect in order to make their performance tonight a success. Besides, he wanted her. The tension in his body increased. He dropped his tie on the floor and, without any conscious thought, his strides lengthened as he approached the pool, undoing his shirt buttons as he walked. By the time he reached the pool’s edge, he’d stripped down to bare skin. One look at the water, or what was in the water, had his body thrumming with need. Abby was swimming laps in a skimpy two-piece suit that revealed more flesh than it covered. Her pale skin had taken on a golden glow from time spent in the sun, and she looked like a curvaceous sun goddess.
She looked good enough to eat.
“Dante, you’re home early.”
Doubting that he was capable of speech, Dante licked his lips. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
She pressed closer. “A very good thing.” She pressed her lips to his.
Her sweet taste and the sultry hint of her natural fragrance wrapped around his senses like a magic spell. He groaned and cupped her bottom, rubbing her against the hardened part of him that desperately wanted to be buried deep within her. It was as if his body recognized that she was his mate, his partner, his wife. It was just the two of them. Nothing but breathing and heartbeats as he lost himself in her kiss. He couldn’t have ended the kiss if he’d tried.
Excerpt from The Reluctant Wife ©2012 by Bronwen Evans. All rights reserved.
I hope you enjoy THE RELUCTANT WIFE. Feel free to email me and let me know.
Now, tell me what you enjoy most about either historicals or contemporaries and I’ll give you a copy of my May 2012 Regency historical, Invitation to Scandal, in book or eBook format.
I’m also running a The Reluctant Wife release contest over at Romance Wrangler. Enter to WIN a Kindle Fire or Kindle Touch – your choice. Open internationally. Closes January 15th 2013.
THE RELUCTANT WIFE:
She married the wrong man, but has to pretend he’s the right guy…Get A Copy: Amazon | B&N
Abby Taylor walked out on her irresistible husband three years ago. Now she has no choice but to return to Italy to ask him for a favor. To pay for her grandmother’s heart operation she needs his money, but it comes with strings attached.
Conte Dante Lombardi has it all—an Italian villa, a successful family business, and a noble title. But he needs a child to carry on his legacy and time is running out. He also hopes to satisfy the desire Abby rouses in him.
As Abby uncovers why he’s in such a hurry for a child, she falls in love with him again … just as she realizes it might be impossible to keep her end of the deal.
Book Extras: Read another excerpt
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Bronwen is running a The Reluctant Wife release contest over at Romance Wrangler. Enter to WIN a Kindle Fire or Kindle Touch – your choice. Open internationally. Closes January 15th 2013.
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