What is it about estate homes in historical novels that leave us pining to live there? You know you want to, admit it. None of us laughed at Elizabeth Bennet when she declared she thought she probably first fell in love with Mr. Darcy when she saw Pemberly. We all sighed with her when she first saw that impressive prospect from her uncle’s carriage.
Is it privilege we long for? Money? Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, shown here, stands on 3000 acres of wooded parkland. In California,where I live, the only properties with that kind of acreage are cattle ranches, and they are getting fewer with each passing decade. And most have a working farm house, not one set up for entertaining.
While researching my next release, A Christmas Dragon Scheme, I looked at floor plans of the great country houses and was impressed with one thing: the houses with a royal suite. The owners ran in high enough circles they needed a room for the King to sleep in when he dropped by. We have hotels with Presidential Suites in the U.S, not homes!
We had to consider the layout of Danby Castle for our novellas in the Regency Christmas Summmons Collection. We quickly agreed on the personal rooms The Duke of Danby would use, and went on to imagine a castle big enough to house the dozens of grandchildren, and their parents, in some cases, who would come to visit. What a grand home it has to be! And its own ballroom, of course, where the Duke holds his annual Christmas Ball.
Of course, the home or castle is only a backdrop to the characters in a story, but the research is so much fun! Without the country houses belonging to the peerage, we might as well be writing about the smithy or rag lady. Those books are fun in their way, but we need our occasional chance at becoming mistress of Pemberly, don’t we?
You can find my Danby novella, The Viscount’s Sweet Temptation, in A Summons from Yorkshire (Regency Christmas Summons Collection Book 1). Here are the blurb and excerpt:
Lady Harriet Thornhill knows the summons from her grandfather means he’s decided whom she must marry. Determined that she’d only marry a man of her choosing, she stows away in her friend’s father’s carriage, only to find herself alone with young Archibald Napier,Viscount Morley.
Morley’s plans for a quiet Christmas vanish when he discovers the sweet young lady hiding under the blankets in his carriage. As she claims an acquaintance with his sister, he feels duty-bound to see her safely back to her family.
A broken carriage wheel leaves them stranded, and Harriet’s reputation is at stake. Morley’s not ready to take a wife, until he’s told he wouldn’t be a suitable husband for her. With memories of her sweet, tempting kiss filling his thoughts, he prepares to fight for the hand of the woman he believes he could love.
Lady Harriet Thornhill stood at the window of her parents' sitting room in the inn, gazing at the gathering black clouds. The threatening storm echoed the swirling emotions in her mind. She must escape!
Her mother, Lady Alderford, sat quietly behind her sipping tea and nibbling the biscuits the proprietor's wife had provided upon their arrival. Her father dozed in the chair opposite her mother. How could they be so complacent when Harriet's very life was at stake?
Harriet wished she had read her grandfather's summons before her mother had. Mayhap she could have burned the missive and pretended it had never arrived. How dare he insist they alter any holiday plans they might have to travel to Yorkshire in such incumbent weather? How dare he insist he had important business with his entire family? Who did he think he was to command them all?
Well, of course, he thought he was the Duke of Danby, and he was the Duke of Danby, so he most likely did have the right to make these demands. But her mother was the duke's youngest daughter. They did not pretend to think Harriet's brother Leander, Baron Penlow, stood to inherit much of anything from the duke. By the time her hordes of cousins had been given their share of his wealth, there would be little left for the Thornhills.
That left only one reason for the duke's summons. He must have found someone for Harriet and her sister, Lady Miriam, possibly even Lee, to marry. Oh, this would never do! To be forced to marry a man not of her own choosing, mayhap not of her acquaintance, and after she had only enjoyed two London Seasons!
It was not to be borne.
A slow drizzle kept the roads filled with muck, just enough for her father to insist they stop early for the night. Papa was not a favorite son-in-law and felt no urgency to arrive early at Danby Castle. As much as she might consider pleading her case to either of her parents, she knew it would be wasted breath.
No one crossed a direct command from the duke. No one.
Comment with your email address to be included in the contest detailed here: http://aileenfish.com/books/summons.html Keep up with Aileen’s releases at http://aileenfish.com where you’ll find links to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.