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CarolinelambDoes the title surprise you? Well this story surprised me when I read it some time ago… Who would have thought that the British aristocracy were bringing their daughters out in Paris during the time of Napoleon. But that is what happened.

Before I go on to tell you the tale though here is the background to this series of posts for anyone one joining us today, and for those who have been following my blog for a while, well as always just skip to the bold type at the end of the italics.

I was drawn to Lady Caroline Lamb, who lived in the Regency era, because Harriette Wilson the courtesan who wrote her memoirs in 1825, mentions the Ponsonby and the Lamb family frequently. Also the story of Caroline’s affair with Lord Byron captured my imagination. Caroline was also a writer, she wrote poems, and novels in her later life. I have read Glenarvon.

Her life story and her letters sucked me further into the reality of the Regency world which is rarely found in modern-day books. Jane Austen wrote fictional, ‘country’ life as she called it, and I want to write fictional ‘Regency’ life rather than simply romance. But what I love when I discover gems in my research like Caroline’s story is sharing the real story behind my fiction here too.

Lady Caroline Lamb was born Caroline Ponsonby, on the 13th November 1785. She was the daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, and Henrietta (known as Harriet), the sister of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Caroline became an official lady when her grandfather died, and her father became Earl of Bessborough earning her the honorific title ‘Lady’ and she grew up in a world of luxury, even Marie Antoinette was a family friend. Caroline was always renowned as being lively, and now it is suspected she had a condition called bipolar. As a child she earned herself a title as a ‘brat’, by such things as telling her aunt Georgiana that Edward Gibbon’s (the author of The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire) face was ‘so ugly it had frightened her puppy’.

And when she grew up Byron once described Caroline as “the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.”

This is purely my guess – but I suppose the Cavendishs and Ponsonbys gravitated more towards France because they were from an old family, and when Harriette and Georgiana were in their youth the French court was seen as the most eloquent, and Marie Antionette had been their close friend. In the early period of the Georgian era people traveled all the time, many people know of the London seasons but in reality there was a Paris season, a Bath season and a Brussels season, and many more, the aristocracy moved around to socialize and to find marriage partners. I am stating the obvious now, but people didn’t have telephones, and the majority lived on country estates, how else were the young men and women to meet each other unless families came together, and as they did not want them marrying beneath them then travelling to meet others of the same standing was the only way to match make. Especially in the days of know pictures either (look what happened to Henry VIII when he chose a wife from a portrait). It was not the only reason for gathering, but it played a large part in why whole families traveled.

But why on earth did they travel to Paris to bring Caro out into French society? Well a treaty had been signed between France and Britain in March 1802 so they were no longer at war, so perhaps it was not so extraordinary, but Caro’s grandmother did not agree with the idea, and yet to Caro and her mother in the letters which were shared, this seemed a much bigger event than coming out among high society in London.

They sailed in December 1802 and Caro recorded her feelings in a poem.

 

‘Farewell to England and farewell to frocks. 

Now France I hail thee with a sweeping train.

Subdued I’ll bed my stubborn locks

And enter on a life of art and pain. 

Farewell to childhood and perhaps to peace

Now life I shall upon thy dangerous stream. 

And oh may wisdom with each year encrease 

And prove my follies but an infant’s dream.’

 

What Caro wore to her first Parisian ball, the Duchess of Gordon’s, on the 22nd December 1802, is recorded too. It was a fashionable white gown, with rows of bows, made from blue ribbon, along with shoulder length white doeskin gloves, and her white slippers were satin. Her hair had also been more significantly decorated in a ‘Whig bouffant’ and adorned with pearls and a diamond diadem, while pearls and diamonds were also about her neck.

The Duchess of Gordon was as much of a high society socialite as Harriette and Georgiana, all her daughters had married dukes, and so obviously the decision to take Caro to Paris was not without forethought, they knew the circuit they were taking Caro into.

Caro would have danced until daylight at the ball. Society then engaged through the night parted in the early morning and then reconvened calling upon each other after two in the afternoon, and then their evenings began again.

Caro and her mother record attending many balls, the Duchess of Luyens, Princess Dolgorouk’s and Lady Melbourne, the mother of Caro’s future husband, William Lamb, gave a party on 13th January (implying therefore that many people from British high society had traveled over to Paris for the period).

Harryo, Georgiana’s daughter, who was with the family too, had obviously taken a dislike to William Lamb and his brother Frederick; she wrote in a letter that they were drunk at their mother’s ball, and quotes William discussing ‘the danger of a young woman believing in weligion and pwacticing mowality

Oh those Lambs ;) sorry that is pinching phrase Caro used later in her life.

However if Harriette had taken Caro there with the hope of attaching her to some suitable Frenchman, Caroline was having none of it. She wrote to a friend in England while she was there…

Frenchman, smile not thus on me;

I hate your race. I hate your nation. 

In vain you bend your supple knee.,

I care not for your adulation. 

I love a man of English race

Who never learned to fawn or dance. 

He has an English heart and face.

Oh there is no such man in France.

 

Next time I will share Harriett’s opinion of the French and how she carefully maneuvered through society there with an aim to honour her memory of Marie Antoinette.

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For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired                                                 The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2,                              A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3                                                                   The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

Jane’s books can be ordered from amazon by clicking on the covers in the sidebar,  and are available from most booksellers.

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Reckless in Innocence

© Jane Lark

Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark, this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

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Reckless in Innocence

~

Read the earlier parts Part one

~

Part Two

They had waltzed together so many times it was easy for Elizabeth to immediately relax into the flow of the dance, moving her feet in time with his.

Her fingers rested over his evening coat; the muscle beneath tightened and relaxed as they circled among the other couples.

She loved Marcus Campbell, but she knew he would never love her, and she could cope with that. Last night she had thought up a reckless plan, and her reckless plan meant that she would have all of him, just for a moment, to savour and remember and then after that she would let him go, and she would be happy.

She was grateful for the few weeks she had held this beautiful young  duke’s attention, for his courting and his flattery, but it was simply a game to him – shallow. It would become meaningless. This could not last.

She had not received the introductions other girls had, her mother was too inattentive, and Elizabeth had hidden behind the plants, or sculptures, for every dance, to avoid embarrassment. Yet then she’d met Marcus.

No one had approached poor Elizabeth Derwent until the moment the Duke of Tay happened to pass her hiding behind the potted palms.

He had thrown her a broad grin, taken her hand and introduced himself as Marcus Campbell, drawing her on to the floor to dance, and he had not parted from her the entire evening after that. He had chatted to her idly, of this and that, for hours and she had felt herself glow in his company. He made her feel beautiful. All the tabbies had stared in horror, and all the other debutantes looked on with envy.

Of course her mother should have stopped it. She should have made some excuse to draw Elizabeth away, but her mother was an ardent gambler, she never left the card room, and of course Elizabeth should never have let him speak to her when they had not been introduced by someone else, but she had been alone too long and those sparkling eyes had been enchanting.

But everyone knew she should not have done what she had, and people had stared and whispered…

If people had not reacted so, then perhaps she may never have spoken to him again, but everyone had looked at her – for the first time in her life she had become visible, envied and in his eyes, beautiful. He had made that very clear.

An invigorating power had surged through her blood, as everyone who had ignored her all season looked at her, wondering why the Duke of Tay had chosen her. She had felt alive, for the first time since her brother had left.

The heat of Marcus’s palm seeped through the fabric of her gown into her back, and his sparkling, dark brown eyes glowed in the flickering candlelight.

From the first night she had ignored everyone’s ill-judgement, lifting her nose up at any whispered comments from the elderly women, the tabby cats, who sat about the ballrooms in their brightly coloured turbans, as though they were the queens of the society. No one but her parents had the right to tell her, no, and her parents did not care, she was not even sure they knew that every time Marcus Campbell walked into a room she stared at him, until he stared at her too, their gazes meeting through the crowd.

She had become shameless with him. When he danced and spoke with others, she watched, waiting. Marcus would always come to her in the end, or call her to him, and they always spent more time together than the boundaries of society allowed.

She did not care.

His interest had brought her to the attention of other men too, and now she danced to every melody at balls.

Thanks to the rakehell Duke of Tay, she had become the fashion.

“You look particularly beautiful tonight..” His deep pitch ran across the skin of her neck.

To be in the company of a scintillating, untamed man, like Marcus was reckless and wonderful.

“I particularly like the fluidity and the translucence of your dress… it displays your figure perfectly…” He had paid her more and more attention as the season had progressed, and his compliments had become increasingly daring, though he’d never touched her in a way he should not.

“Thank you. I love it. Papa bought it for me especially.” Her father saw the garment as an investment. This whole season was merely a business venture to him.

“You may have your season but you must find a husband of means, no on else.” He’d said that the day they had left their quiet, silent little manor house to come to London.

She had known immediately – she would not even try. Who would take her when her mother was a gambler and her father a penniless drunk, with his head in the clouds of fiction. He was forever speaking of stupid business ventures to make a fortune he could then drink away, and her mother could gamble away.

She had come to London only to enjoy the experience – to live a little – to see this world – and then she would run.

Marcus smiled.

Tonight…

Tonight she intended to reach the crescendo of her adventure. The time had come for her to fulfil the end of her plan, to escape, to find a suitable position, perhaps as a governess or a companion, and leave the selfish obsessions of her parents behind, just as her brother had done.

But before she walked away from this life she wanted to experience one more thing…

Marriage had always been for fairytales, she’d never believed she would marry, her father was a baron, but her parents had destroyed his estate.

But then she had met Marcus and fallen in love. Oh she was not a fool, she knew there would not be a fairytale ending. He had a reputation as black as tar – and he was a duke – he would not settle on a penniless girl of poor family.

But just because she would not marry, why could she not experience the things married women did…

Marcus spun her quickly with a twisted smile. Elizabeth closed the distance between them, a little, feeling the firmness of his chest brush against her breasts. He did not move her away. Instead his fingers slipped a little further across her upper back.

She knew how seductive her dress was, the tight small bodice pushed up her breasts and the fabric was nearly sheer and showed off the line of her legs as she moved. She had watched her reflection in the mirror at home, skimming her own fingers across the low cut bodice, and across her bosom, sliding her hand beneath her breasts to touch the seam of the fashionable high waist.

She did not look like a debutante, tonight. She looked like a woman of experience. Like Lady Caroline Lamb… and the set of wild woman whom Marcus always spoke with. She wanted to be like them… and tonight she would become like them. She would be as untamed and as free as the Duke of Tay now.

Last night his smile had haunted her shallow sleep, and the intensity of her feelings had swelled, she could never cease thinking of him, or seeing him in her mind’s-eye. She loved Marcus Campbell.

He may not love her; yet there was no doubt that he liked what he saw in her – his eyes whispered it as they danced, and they had shouted it across the ballrooms of society for weeks – every time he walked into a room he looked for her.

So why should she not… Why? Why? Those words had played through her mind all through the night.

Just take one chance while you have it.

One moment.

One experience.

Live… Just once…

His expression and the depth in his brown eyes had played through her head for hours… Then she had made up her mind and set upon the most reckless course of action she had ever followed in her life…

She held his gaze, and the look which had hovered with her all through the previous night was there again. The look that said he wished to devour her… Last night she had realized she wished to be devoured. She wanted to know what it would be like to be loved by Marcus Campbell, physically – if she could know nothing else.

It would simply be a brief moment. It could not continue. But this could not continue anyway. In another month or two the season would draw to an end.

In the last of the dark hours she had calculated her seduction; trusting that a man with the Duke of Tay’s reputation would not refuse her. Then in the morning she had looked at her father’s paper, when he’d left it on the breakfast table, and scanned the advertisements for positions, then quickly written and posted a letter replying to an advert for a companion to a woman in London.

Elizabeth smiled at him, opening her eyes a little wider as he gave her a questioning smile.

She knew girls ought be demurring and not look a man full in the eyes. She deliberately held his gaze more ardently, losing herself in the enchantment of the rich, dark brown as he looked back.

She pressed even closer to him. Marcus absorbed the distance as though it was nothing for them to dance so close.

“You know that I lose myself in the turquoise of your eyes, Elizabeth, you do not need to tempt me even more.”

“Am I tempting you…”

“Are you playing seductress tonight? You know I can feel every contour of your body through this dress when you are so close.”

Her upper thigh glanced against his, and his fingers slightly curved moving the fabric against the skin of her back.

His gaze dropped to watch her lips.

She felt so hot, terrified and yet excited – it was going to happen. It was…

She breathed in as he watched and then his gaze fell to her breasts as she breathed out.  It lifted to her eyes again, while he turned her in the pattern of the dance, holding her close and making her head spin.

A single strand of her hair fell onto her shoulder.

His gaze caught on that, and then lifted again.

“You enthrall me. In a way no other woman has done. I am becoming your slave.”

Such charming, shallow, but enchanting words.

The music began to soften and gradually the dance drew to a close. Marcus spun her one last time, making her giddy with love and want.

She wanted him beyond anything.

As they stopped moving her body pressed against his. He was warm and solid, muscular and athletic.

She did not pull away. Nor did he – for a moment – his gaze holding hers.

His hand fell from her back she leant her cheek against his shoulder. “I am so hot, Your Grace. Would you accompany me to the conservatory for some fresh air? It is such a crush in here.” She pulled away then.

The stiffness of his body and the look in his eyes implied that his thoughts were entirely attuned to hers.

~

To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but this is the actual order

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel

#1 The Illicit Love of a Courtesan

#1.5 Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ This Free Novella

#2 The Passionate Love of a Rake

#2.5 The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ Free here, see  index

#3 The Scandalous Love of a Lord

and, yes, there are more to come  :-)

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Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired                                                 The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2,                              A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3                                                                   The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

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