Historical research…how much? How little?
I often get asked how much research goes into my Victorian romances and I find this really difficult to answer. As I write romance rather than historical fiction, I focus on the central relationship more than anything––which basically means the emotion. To my mind, the emotions of people during the 1800s would have been more or less the same as today…even if their problems and concerns were entirely different.
My research begins once I have decided on the theme of my book – for What A Woman Desires, my latest Victorian romance, the central theme is “Home is where the heart is”. So what did this mean as far as research is concerned? Well, first and foremost, I had to know how homes were run in the late 19th century. A home of the poor as well as the wealthy, because I had already decided my heroine was from a middle-upper class family and my hero from a lower class.
Obviously we are all lucky enough to have access to the World Wide Web nowadays, but I still think it is imperative to read as well as visit places as much as possible. I read plenty of Victorian non-fiction while writing this book as well as visiting No 1 Royal Crescent in Bath (although this is set to the Georgian era, it gave me a nice sense of place), the Bath Fashion Museum and the Theatre Royal. My favorite Victorian research book this time around (and the most helpful) was The Victorian House by Judith Flanders.
For my next Victorian book (and current work in progress), I am researching children’s boarding houses during the late 1800s as my heroine will end up working at one in bid to add something fundamentally important to a life she views as mundane and without purpose. I have cried over some of the stories I have read and hope I manage to capture the heroine’s passion and care for children as well as her love for the hero.
I spent a lot of time talking to the Bath Record Office and read books on the boarding houses as well as the Workhouse in the city. The problem with research is often knowing when to stop! If you enjoy history, the temptation to keep researching rather than getting on with the writing is hard to resist.
Through my reading and visiting, I have become more and more interested in delving backwards as well as forwards in time from the Victorian era. I wouldn’t be surprised if I write a Georgian and Edwardian series in the future. Watch this space!
From country girl to actress of the stage, one woman dares to live her dreams—but is she brave enough to open her heart…?
Monica Danes always wanted more than the village of Biddestone had to offer. After a failed courtship to a man of her parents’ choosing, she fled for the city of Bath and never looked back. Today, Monica is the undisputed queen of the theater—a wealthy, independent woman. But when she is called home in the wake of tragedy, Monica returns—intending to leave again as soon as possible.
Thomas Ashby has been a groom at the Danes estate since he was a boy—and has been enamored with Monica for almost as long. He knows he isn’t a suitable match for his master’s daughter, despite the special bond he and Monica have always shared—and their undeniable attraction. But now that she’s returned, Thomas has one last chance to prove himself worthy—and to show Monica a life, and a love, she won’t want to give up...
Monica stared at the man’s partially revealed profile, obscured by the shadow of his hat. Familiarity she couldn’t place swept over her. He was tall, almost a foot taller than her, his shoulders broad and his biceps thick. Her gaze drifted along the sinewy forearms revealed by his rolled shirtsleeves. A laborer. She lifted her gaze to his face as he glared at their attackers. His jaw was chiseled despite the stubble that grazed it. She swallowed as shameful intimidation and attraction rolled through her. She imagined his eyes were the deepest blue. . . .
The sound of his deep, rough voice a second time sliced through her appraisal and Monica stiffened.
“Get up now,” he growled.
Her breath knotted in the center of her chest. “Thomas?”
He turned and their gazes locked for the briefest moment before he looked to the men once more. It was barely a second, maybe two, that he’d looked at her, but the intensity of his gaze lingered on Monica’s skin, burning white-hot heat through her clothes to sear deep into her flesh just the way it had years before. Her heart picked up speed and her body warmed with a desire she hadn’t known in so very long. To trust a man implicitly, to know he cared for her and those closest to her was a rarity she’d taken for granted throughout the years she’d lived in Biddestone.
Her time away had taught her more than Thomas would ever understand. Shame pinched hot at her cheeks. No matter her previous connection with him, the men she’d met since had made her doubt her instincts and not dare to trust again. Yet, the life lessons she’d endured would do nothing to soothe the undoubted scar she’d left on Thomas’s sense of loyalty by leaving Marksville and not once looking back.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington--her debut was released in April 2013, followed by a second in January 2014 and the third is released Jan 2015.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
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I'm currently writing a novella which will be included in a multi-author boxed set, due to be published in February 2019