Queen Victoria, whose long reign spanned 1837 – 1901, was known for her strict code of moral conduct. She herself, however was certainly no prude when it came to her marital relationship with her husband, Albert. By all accounts, the two had an affectionate and passionate relationship between the sheets. As a result, their union produced nine children. Nevertheless, the Victorian era is seen as one of straight-laced propriety, endless rules of etiquette, and an emphasis on purity and virtue. Certainly the queen’s offspring, raised in such an atmosphere, could be expected to be as well-behaved as the von Trapp family brood…or as wholesome as the Brady Bunch.
Not so fast.
Victoria and Albert’s eldest son, Edward (nicknamed ‘Bertie’) was a naughty lad…once he grew out of short pants. As a young man, he took pleasure in the company of accommodating women, both before and during his marriage to long-suffering Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Edward’s string of mistresses was legendary, but no illegitimate offspring were ever acknowledged by him. In one incident, a flagrant affair with actress Nellie Clifden brought Edward’s papa on the run. Albert was already ill when he undertook the journey, but two weeks afterward, he died. Victoria blamed her son for her beloved’s demise, writing about Edward to her eldest daughter, “I never can, or shall, look at him without a shudder.”
All scandalous behavior aside, ‘Bertie’ had the reputation for being a clotheshorse, charming, well-mannered, skilled in the art of diplomacy–and fond of a good meal. Perhaps he was not as straight-laced as his mother would have wished…but neither was he dull.
The popular television series Downton Abbey is set in the post-Edwardian era, but that program inspired me to delve a little deeper into the age as a backdrop to my latest release, Jessamine’s Folly. In the story, young Jessamine finds herself obliged to earn her own living, even though she was brought up as a privileged member of the gentry class. As a newly-hired companion to an earl’s sister, she’s not exactly a servant, but she’s not Society either. Jessamine tries to adapt to her new role, but pitfalls abound. Can she navigate her way through, or will she end up working in East End as just another casualty of sudden poverty?
~ S.G. Rogers
After her estate is entailed away, Jessamine Foster has no choice but to live with relatives who detest her. When her aunt gives her an ultimatum to leave, Jessamine accepts a position as companion to Lord Kirkendale’s sister—even though she’s been warned her predecessors can’t seem to resist the earl’s exceptional good looks. Can Jessamine manage to hold onto her job without losing her heart?
To honor a promise made to his dying father, Lord Kirkendale agrees to an arranged marriage to a woman he cannot love. Although he is resigned to a life without sentiment, the arrival of his sister’s new companion awakens a slumbering passion. Can he find a way to secure his own happiness without sacrificing his family’s honor, or will his broken promise result in the ruination of the person he loves most?
Available at Amazon HERE, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday!
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