History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

13 January 2010

Guest Author Beverley Kendall

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to guest author Beverley Kendall, whose debut novel, Sinful Surrender, hit the shelves last week.

Millicent “Missy” Armstrong is entering her fourth London Season, but not for lack of suitors. Since her debut three years ago, Missy has received twenty marriage proposals. But she is interested in only one man—her brother’s best friend, James Rutherford. As a child, Missy looked up to James. As a grown up, her admiration has blossomed into the longings of a beautiful, sensuous woman—and she won’t rest until James admits his love—and desire—for her…

James Rutherford rues the day he let his physical weaknesses get the better of him by kissing Missy. His best friend has made it clear that Missy is off limits, and though he’s avoided her for three years, he hasn’t forgotten the feel of her soft lips pressed against his—and it seems neither has she. For no matter how much James tries to discourage Missy, he keeps winding up in her arms, sharing heated caresses that promise the most delirious pleasure...

Below Beverley shares her thoughts on the allure of the Victorian era. She'll be giving away copies of Sinful Surrender to two lucky commenters, so do join in the discussion!


Why lure of the Victorian era?

There are several reasons I decided to write in the Victorian era. The first spans 1837-1901, the reign of Queen Victoria. I really like having all these years to play with. The second reason was that it wasn't the Regency period. Don't get me wrong, most of the historicals I read are set during the Regency, but there is that whole matter of industrial advancement that period lacked. I wanted to write in a time when lighting, plumbing, and the sewage system were more advanced. I wanted to write about a time when suffragettes were really beginning to come into play. When women could own property and file for divorce. All of these advancements took place during the Victorian period.

Well then why not write during the twentieth century? Because for some odd reason I believe remaining in the nineteenth century makes it more historical to me. The time isn't so advanced as to lose that je ne sais quoi that makes a story feel like I'm reading about another time, another era, and indeed another century.

But all is not easy in the Victorian era. There are things I'm definitely not fond of. One, and the most significant, has to be the clothing. Oh dear, why does there have to be so much of it, and why can't the skirt of a dress fit through a regular door? Even in the latter years, there was that bustle, although I admit, I'd rather the bustle than those whale-boned cages.

And did you know that the Victorians were even more repressed than their counterparts in the Regency? Apparently, the Regency era was like the roaring 1920s, which then caused severe social repression as we also saw in the 1950s. But it also birthed the traditional family and Christmas as we now celebrate it.

Sinful Surrender and the subsequent books in my Reformed Rakes trilogy takes place from 1852-1868 and I was happy to see my characters learn and adapt to the changes of their time. I'm especially looking forward to a time I can get my poor heroines out of their clothes without the equivalent to an act of Parliament.

What about you? What is your favourite historical era? Is there anything in particular that makes it your favourite?

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Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks for visiting us, Beverley! "Sinful Surrender" sounds great. Growing up reading a lot of Victorian novels (not to mention watching Victorian Masterpiece Theater productions), I agree it's a fascinating time period. But I confess the Regency/Napoleonic era remains my favorite. I love how it's posed on the cusp between the 18th century and the Victorian era. I love more free-wheeling morals you mention, the clash between reaction and reform in the aftermath of the French Revolution. And the clothes :-).

12:32 AM  
Anonymous maered said...

Hi Bev! I love the Victorian era for precisely the reasons you stated. It's a more advanced period but still holds that "historical" feel. The clothing sounds like a bit of a bother, though!

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Brynna said...

Good morning, Bev.

The Victorian period is my favorite. My very first completed ms is set in the 1850s. I love the ability to write about people who rise in their circumstances. :)

Have a terrific day! :)

5:00 AM  
Blogger Rebekah E. said...

Thanks for the great post. I would have to say that I really do love the Victorian Era. I really love how the closes are shown in movies and described in books.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Welcome to our blog, Beverley! I love it when we feature new authors here, and it’s nice to see someone with a real love of the Victorian era. My friends and I have recently been thumbing through costume books and planning new costumes for Dickens Faire (a local Christmas event). I can’t wait to get started on my 1840s or 1850s gown, since the one I have now is c. 1875 (my favorite of the Victorian styles, but really too late for the event).

As far as “favorite historical era” goes, I'm a Georgian era girl all the way, with a specific penchant for the 1780s.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Jamie Lynn said...

I love books set in the Victorian Era. I love the clothes, there is something about the bustle that i love. i think that its such a long period of time and you can see how innovation starts to take off. i also love how you start to see the women taking control of there lives.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite timeframe is England in the 1800s.

tradingaddress at gmail dot com

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Bev said...

Hi Tracy & Kalen, thanks so much for having me on your blog. And Tracy I must admit, I really do like the clothes better in Regency. Those empire waists and lack of bulky undergarments. Thank goodness the Victorians (mine to be more precise ;)) find ways to wheel and deal.

Kalen, again the clothes of the Georgian era are lovely too. If only they were more 'modern'. I have this 'thing' for indoor plumbing :)

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Bev said...

Hi Maered! Yes, the clothes are definitely a bother. Love scenes can be tediously long if you describe the poor hero having to strip the heroine's clothes off piece by piece. :)

Hi Brynna ((waves madly)). Glad I have a fellow lover of that period. Rises above their circumstances reminds me of Lisa Kleypas's hero Derek Craven and the heroine in Karen Robards' Loving Julia.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

Hi Rebekah, thanks for dropping by. Oh yes, that is the best. When I'm writing, I love having visuals. It really brings the clothes alive in my mind.

Hi Jamie Lynn! Yes, I totally agree about the women's movement during that time. Women made a lot of progress in the Victorian era.

Hi Anon! The whole century was pretty darn good, I will agree. ;)

8:30 AM  
Blogger Stephanie J said...

Beverley -- I've seen your guest appearance on many blogs as of late but was so busy I had a hard time getting a comment in! Congrats on your debut. I met you at a party at RWA last year so it's doubly exciting to see the debut of someone I "know." I can't wait to read this book!!!

I write in the Victorian era as well and it's my favorite for all the same reasons you mentioned. Thus far, I've tried to ignore the clothing in my WIP b/c I know it will be a hassle! I'm leaving that for the editing stage. We'll call it post-novel research. ;)

9:15 AM  
Blogger Virginia C said...

Hi, Beverly! I would choose the Victorian Era since it covers the American Old West of the 1800's, my favorite story setting. Someone who vividly illustrates the radical changes to industry and social mores during this time is legendary lawman Wyatt Earp (b 1848-d 1929. If you are interested in Western lore, his life is more amazing than any fictional law and order tale! After his well-documented career as a "peace-keeper" ended, Earp eventually moved to Hollywood, where he met several famous and "soon to be famous actors" on the sets of various movies. On the set of one movie, he met a young extra and prop man who would eventually become John Wayne. Wayne later stated that he based his image of the Western lawman on his conversations with Earp. In the early 1920s, Earp served as deputy sheriff in a mostly ceremonial position in San Bernardino County, California. His 80 year life-span covered amazing changes in industry and technology, social reform and entertainment.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

9:36 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Welcome to the Hoydens, Beverley, and congratulations on what sounds like a stunning literary debut! I'm a fan of the Victorian era as well (back when I had my theatre company we specialized in producing neglected 19th c. classics). The societal contradictions (as well as the corsets and the costumes!) continue to fascinate me.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

Thanks Stephanie, so glad you dropped by. You must tell me which party we met at. Was this in DC? LOL. You're like me. I will put off some of those 'clothing' scenes until revision time.

Hi Virginia!!! I LOVE a good WESTERN. I wanted to base half of my third book in the American West but my agent wasn't keen on that, but I swear, I'm going to do in one of my books. And movies about the life of Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, completely fascinate me.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

Hi Leslie, thanks for the warm welcome! Wow, you had a theatre company? Now I'm fascinated. Which neglected classics did you produce?

11:11 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

Hi Beverly. I like the Regency era best followed by the Victorian era.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thus far, I've tried to ignore the clothing in my WIP b/c I know it will be a hassle.

For me, one of the best parts of writing historicals is the clothes. Every gown is as ornate as a modern wedding dress. Every love scene can be as teasing, glorious and erotic as a wedding night! If you’re ignoring the clothes, you’re missing out on some SERIOUS opportunities to “bring sexy back”!!! Whether you want to draw it out as a naughty striptease or give it a rough and ready edge, the clothes can help you do that. Don’t fight against those details, make them work for you!

If you have questions about the layers, about how it feels to wear them, about what it’s like to get in and out of them, you can listen to the recording of my workshop Undressing Your Heroine (RWA 2005) and you can always ask me! I love talking about this stuff.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If only they were more 'modern'. I have this 'thing' for indoor plumbing

Since it's not something I spend a whole lot of time on in my books, I don't worry overmuch about the fact that they're using chamber pots. The only time it comes up is if it's necessary to the plot (as in she needs one to smash over the villain’s head).

12:28 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Hi Beverley,
Congrats on your debut release. I love medievals. I'm fascinate by the social and political unrest and religious turmoil during that time period.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

One of my favorite books, "Freedom & Necessity" by Stephen Brust & Emma Bull, is set in the mid-nineteenth century. It isn't a romance but it has a fabulous love story and a wonderful, very erotic love scene which consists mostly of the hero undressing the heroine, one garment at a time.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

LOL. Kalen you are so funny. And believe me, I don't spend any time writing about chamber pots etc. but I KNOW and apparently that affects my preference. LOL. Oh, I would so love to get my hands on undressing your heroine.

Hi Jane ((waving))! LOL, the reason you love medievals is exactly the reason I stay away from them on the most part (there ARE exceptions).

1:52 PM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

Hi Crystal. Regency is definitely my second favourite historical period.

1:53 PM  
Blogger booklover0226 said...

Hello, All.

I love novels set in ancient Egypt.

Tracey D

2:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

BillsPro now sells individual workshops, but looking at their site, I only see 2008 and 2009. :(

2:43 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I like a lot of different time periods but I think Regency is a favorite.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Barbara E. said...

I think it's great that Sinful Surrender is set in Victorian times. I enjoy stories of a lot of different periods, but I do have a soft spot for Victorian. I think it was a exciting time for everyone, with lots of new inventions changing the way people lived.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

@Kalen Darn!

Hi Maureen, I think Regency is a perennial favourie. ;)

Yay, Barbara. Right now I'm pretty settled in that period. And not just because all of my reference materials are for the Victorian era. LOL. Ideally, I'll be working my way slowly but surely to the end of the century.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Lauren Willig said...

Congrats on your debut, Beverley! I can't wait to read it.

Despite writing Napoleonic, I'm with Kalen on this one-- I'm a Georgian girl at heart. Although I'd probably go early Georgian. There's nothing like those 1720's!

4:36 PM  
Blogger Beverley Kendall said...

Hi Lauren! Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy SS. :)

Hey, I'm easy, I'll read a Georgian just as easily. However, I don't see a whole lot set in the Georgian or Edwardian times.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Hi Beverley! Late to the party. Just in from work. While I am fascinated by the moral dichotomy of the Victorian era and I find the Georgian era a really good time had by all, I must confess that my heart belongs to the Regency! The clothes, the manners, the sports, and then there was the war. somehow, the Duchess of Richmond's ball with all that glitter and glamor and all of those young men leaving the ball to meet their doom reminds me of the WWI and WWII eras in some ways. According to my father, who was a soldier and a military history buff, until the Korean War, wars were conducted by certain rules and there was a real matching of wits in the way it played out. Not so from Korea forward. And the Napoleonic Wars were the epitome of that sort of war.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Oh and for a really great Edwardian romance try Nicola Cornick's The Last Rake in London!

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Bev said...

Hi Louisa! Not too late cause I'm still hanging around, peeking back. LOL. Thanks for the rec on an Edwardian romance. Now of course, I'll have to check it out.

See I don't mind talk of the war, I just don't like my romances that revolve around the war. I'm just fine when the story begins with the hero returning from the war. ;)

8:07 PM  
Anonymous RachieG said...

I like the Victorian era, but I triple love the Regency period. Oh my gosh how I love it! The dancing, the music, the wardrobe, the language...:)

Beverly, I sincerely can't wait to read your new release. I follow your blog and have been reading the excerpts and updates and am looking forward to it :)

rachie2004 @ yahoo (d0t) com

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Lyoness2009 said...

Hi Beverley! I don't know if I have a favorite historical era. I do enjoy historical books more than contemporaries for the most part, but not a specific period. "Sinful Surrender" looks amazing!

lyoness2009 AT hot mail **dot** com

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Bev said...

Hi RachieG!! Thanks for stopping by. You forget to say you love all that wild debauchery in the Regency. ;) And I hope you enjoy SS whenever you get a chance to read it.

Hi Lyoness2009!! I'm with you on preferring historicals over contemps. Wasn't always that way, but there you have it. LOL. I hope you get a chance to check out SS. :)

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Bev said...

And the 2 winners who will receive a copy of SINFUL SURRENDER are:

Anon (tradingaddress at gmail dot com)

Ladies please email your name and address to me at beverley at beverleykendall dot com.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Hi, Beverley,

To answer your question, we produced everything from the Victorian Era's greatest hits like "The Importance of Being Earnest" to very obscure classics such as "The Frozen Deep," "Black Ey'd Susan," "The Tyranny of Tears" and an 1895 iambic pentameter version of "King Arthur" (with an underscore by Sir Arthur Sullivan which we were able to use courtesy of the Morgan Library which permitted our musical director to study and then piece together on his computer so that the entire score was playable for the first time since Henry Irving and Ellen Terry brought the production to NYC in 1896.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Spav said...

My favourite historical era is probably ancient Greece and Rome, unfortunately I haven't seen a lot of books set there, but it's my favourite because I love that period of time, especially the religion, society and political view of that era.


9:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


My godmother wrote a killer trilogy set in Rome under the pen name Damion Hunter. They're all out of print, but I highly recommend them: The Centurions, Barbarian Princess, The Emperor’s Games. Sadly the last one is nigh-on unobtainium, even used.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks so much for joining us, Beverley! Congrats to Anon and Lyonness2009. I know we'll all enjoy "Sinful Surrender"!

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Beverley! I'm tradingaddress at gmail dot com. I've sent you an email. You may want to check your junkmail/spam folder in case it goes there.
And the 2 winners who will receive a copy of SINFUL SURRENDER are:

Anon (tradingaddress at gmail dot com)

Ladies please email your name and address to me at beverley at beverleykendall dot com.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Deborah Schneider said...

Hi Beverley, I just released a Victorian era book set in the Wild West, and I agree about all the fun of that setting. I've been enjoying the new "Mash-up" of genres and if you want a taste of Steampunk, read Gail Dayton's "New Blood" or "Heart's Blood" -- they are Victorian with magic!
Deborah Schneider, 2009 RWA Librarian of the Year

1:53 PM  
Blogger Jeannette Ng said...

One almost wants to ask if there is any era that is devoid of reformed rakes.

Perhaps the Costume Mercenary has too much of a love for historical detail to feel any frustration over many layers of clothing. Nudity is by no means a necessity for sensuality.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely loooooooooove your books! Very much looking forward to devouring the next! :)

Happy writing!

- A Bluestocking http://bluestockingsguide.blogspot.com/

10:38 PM  

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