What Was She Drinking?: Heroines Who Over Imbibed
Ringing in 2011, I tasted some of the best champagne ever and celebrated with some of the best friends ever! It occurred to me though, that in spite of the festive mood and good company, the amount of alcohol actually consumed was modest, at best. I looked around at the group and recognized for the first time we have all reached an age where over imbibing has become a thing of the past. We have kids, jobs, things to do the next day and frankly, most of us prefer to skip the headache (literally). Old folks and stogies we are, maybe, but enjoying the fine spirits (the mood and the bubbly) got me thinking...when was the last time I read a historical romance where the heroine had too much to drink (on purpose, not because someone slipped her something) and woke up the next day unable to remember what she said or did, but likely able to recall much of what the hero...er, did....?
Historical heroes can drink. They can be bad boys who in the beginning of the novel turn to "their cups" to soak in their lonely broodiness---only to be rescued later on by the heroine, of course. Sometimes, the romance hero gets drunk after he's met the heroine, usually because she's driven him to madness and it's just before he finally caves and decides she is "the one."
At the beginning of the romance story, he may be a rake and drink and cavort with unsavory friends, but you rarely read about a sloppy-drunk hero, even then. Heroes have to stay in control, I believe, and persistent drunkenness is not sexy. I know a few good books where the hero wakes up afterward and can't recall quite how he got into the heroine's bed, or some other scandalous situation. But I can't recall a romance where the heroine wakes with self-inflicted alcohol-induced amnesia and finds herself in a compromising situation with a hero.
I surfed the net and looked for some examples of heroine self-inebriation as a part of the plot line. I had a hard time finding any. I also looked for images of Victorian ladies partying to use with this post (as far as it was acceptable for them to do so). I found no elegant images of beautiful ostrich-befeathered ladies holding any kind of drink accept tea (or Coca Cola). It they were drinking, they looked like women of ill repute or can-can girls. I know Victorian women of quality did not drink a lot (wine with dinner was okay, a cordial now and then), never smoked (in public), or crossed their legs or showed their petticoats...but what about a nice glass of champagne or two with a gentleman at an elegant dinner? Apparently that didn't happen very often either---not enough to make the society newspaper drawings.
I did find a few images of women in pubs. Their kids were with them and since the pub was a family hangout of the day (it was after all, warm and well lit and had decent drink) that's not surprising. Watered down beer and ale were thirst quenchers for much of history (pure water was not always that clean) and medicinal properties were often given to beer and other alcoholic beverages. They given as pain relief during childbirth. But in the end, images of women drinking were not common (I keep thinking of the the old prints that opened the TV show "Cheers" and recall Victorian women-of-the-trade or lower-middle class drinking with suspect looking "gentlemen", but I couldn't find that image in its entirety).
So I have to ask, can anyone recall a recent historical romance where the basically honorable and good heroine gets drunk (she's the introspective, broody, but cavorting one), wakes up afterward and finds herself in "a situation" with the hero? They have to be out there, for sure....