Monday, November 21, 2011

Unwrapping: Romantic Education in Regency Romance

Readers of Romance Novels love the romance and the scenes that seal the love between the hero and heroine. I wonder if one of the things that makes Regency Romance Novels so popular among readers is that we tend to see innocent young ladies being swept off their feet by man who are abundantly more experience in the ways of lovemaking. In our modern age, we learn about the birds and the bees from more places than we should and some not always the best sources of information but in comparison to our blushing lovelies in Regency England, we are nearly as experienced as any gentleman's mistress.

Most young ladies of Regency England learn from their mothers, aunts, or perhaps an older married sister about the events that will unfold on their wedding night. With what most are told, it's amazing that any of them consent to be married at all. Typically, they're told such silly things as "it will be your duty to lay with your husband in the marriage bed. Just be still, let him finish and then you'll be able to go to sleep."

Yikes, it sounds more like they are being given instructions about a doctor's exam minus the going to sleep part rather than what's really going to happen.

So, where then do our young innocent heroines gain their lovemaking skills?

Usually from their heroes, of course, but some of our young ladies are much more enthusiastic about the concept and so do a bit of reading beforehand. It's only natural for them to have a curiosity after all they live in another era not another world. Despite what the men of the time, and some since believe, women need and desire release through lovemaking just as much as any man. 

Take our dear Celia Seaton in THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON by Miranda Neville. She delighted in learning a thing or two from a book she found, The Genuine and Remarkable Amours of the Celebrated Author Peter Aretin and when the opportunity arose, so to speak, she decided to try out what she had learned.

"Tarquin," she said and nipped at his ear.

"Celia," he muttered again beginning to feel sleepy. "I think you've killed me."

"I'm so sorry."

"What a way to go."

She snuggled closer and kissed his neck. "Riding St. George is fun."

"Where did you hear that phrase?"  He refrained from pointing out that it was whore's cant.

"Er, I read it in a book." ---

Or our dear impetuous Suzette Madison in THE HEIRESS by Lynsay Sands.  Suzie was determined to find a poor man who would rescue her father and her sisters from ruin for a poor man would enable her to gain her dowry and pay her father's gambling debts.  Upon meeting Daniel, she was instantly taken by her attraction to him and believed him to be as poor as a church mouse making him a prime candidate for her needs only to discover her needs extended far beyond monetary.  She was more than willing to explore those needs and those of Daniel but surprised him a bit with what she thought she knew.


He stiffened and felt his jaw drop as she suddenly stood before him, completely naked, apparently having shed the gown he'd all but removed himself. Daniel had been struggling with his cravat as he'd thought, but now she brushed his hands away and took the ends as if to manage the task for him. However, she paused and peered up at him solemnly instead.

"It is very chivalrous of you not to want to take my virginity, and I do understand and think it's honorable, but in one of the books I've read, they wrote of a way I could give you the same pleasure you gave me without you actually putting your maypole in me."

"What the devil have you been reading?" Daniel got out in a choked voice ...   ---

Goodness such an education our dear Suzie was getting from her books.

But then her sister, Christiana in THE COUNTESS by Lynsay Sands was so uneducated in the ways of lovemaking that she hadn't even realized that after a year of marriage to her husband that she was still as virginal as the day she wed him. It wasn't until the real Richard Fairgrave gave her a tumble that she knew what it meant to consummate the marriage.

Whatever are the young ladies of Regency Romance to do? Read books, get advice, wrong advice from female members of their family or their friends? Or wait to be 'instructed' by the hero that not only saves the day but captures their hearts? Perhaps if they had someone like Amanda Price from LOST IN AUSTEN to travel back through time and given them all a twentieth century take on the whole romance thing, they wouldn't be so innocent - but then would we really want them less innocent?

Now I'm wondering if, in fact, we are really better off today knowing everything we need to know about the ways of making love or perhaps, would it be more exciting to greet it head on with a large dose of innocence urging us forward as we investigate the mysteries that only our own hero can uncover for us?

Happy Reading Everyone!



Beebs said...

Wow Amy! What a topic, I suspect that there are arguments for and against on both sides of that debate.

When I think of some of the myths, we believed as teenagers, I'm glad that my sons, nephews and nieces are much better informed than I was.

But I do also think that there is an over abundance of information too readily available and unfortunately, this information is not always correct.

Amy Valentini said...

LOL!! Beebs, better informed, yes, but as you say, the information isn't always correct. Perhaps our heroines were better off learning from books after all. I remember when I was old enough, my mother gave me a book - it was all technical and not techniques but it did give me a base - the rest we learn on our own regardless, don't we? As always, thanks for visiting. : )

Beebs said...

"the rest we learn on our own regardless" so true Amy, as with everything else in life.

For now, I'll stick with offering advice when it's asked for and pray that some of it sinks in. *g*