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Thoughts on Naughtiness in Regency Romances by Elizabeth Keysian

Occasionally a reader will tell me, “A Regency young lady would never have behaved like that.” In answer, I say, “Ah, but can you prove that she wouldn’t?

Miss Cassandra Blythe, heroine of my latest book, Unmasking the Earl, does break the rules, I admit. In order to win the man she wants, she comes up with, “A plan so bold, so wicked, she could hardly believe her own mind had conjured it up.”

Let’s face it, Cassie’s story could end up rather dull if she only did the right thing all the time…

There were plenty of contemporary manuals written about how women should conduct themselves, but just because these existed, doesn’t mean everyone followed them. If they had, Georgian and Regency Britain would have been deadly dull—there would have been no gossip for the rumor mill, and nothing to talk of but the high price of corn, infant mortality, war and the latest fashions from France. Ugh, spare me.

If you want to find naughty women in Regency Society, it’s not difficult. In fact, I challenge you to find much mention of well-behaved ones, because then, as now, these paragons of virtue tended to escape the public notice.

One of my favorite scandalous women from the Regency period is Emma, Lady Hamilton, who became the mistress of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, even though they were both still married. To my mind, the latter was England’s greatest hero, and if a blacksmith’s daughter who became an actress, dancer, courtesan, and artist’s model kept him happy, then good for her. She certainly doesn’t sound boring.

Emma Hart

Another entertainingly naughty Regency woman was Queen Caroline of Brunswick, the unfortunate consort of the Prince Regent. The couple soon came to despise one another, and while Prinny enjoyed his mistresses in England, Caroline toured Europe, getting fat, wearing revealing dresses that were too young for her, and generally being an embarrassment to the British Crown.

I repeat my assertion that a lot more naughtiness went on behind closed doors in Regency Britain than the etiquette books would suggest. It is up to authors, like the fantastic bunch of historical romance writers at Entangled Publishing, to imagine exactly what form that naughtiness took. So if you want a peep behind those closed doors, read a “Scandalous” Regency romance like Unmasking the Earl and you won’t be disappointed!


Elizabeth Keysian first started writing fiction when she was eight, encouraged to do so by her Head Teacher father, who needed something to keep her quiet during school holidays. She emerged from the world of her imagination to read History at the University of London, after which she spent many years working as an archaeologist and artifact illustrator. She has written fifteen historical romances since moving to the West of England in 1997, the landscape and history of which have inspired the “Wayward in Wessex” series. Book #1 in the series, “Distracting the Duke”, has recently been published by Entangled Publishing.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter or her website!

Sisters in Love Melissa Foster

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