by Janet Mullany
Later in that scene, the hero, the very proper Mr. Harry Bishop, is charged with dismantling and moving the bed:
I bristle with offended male pride. “I assure you I am quite strong enough to deal with dismantling your bed, Mrs. Wallace.”
“Oh, certainly.” She strolls over to the window and props herself against the window ledge. “Pray proceed. The steps double as storage. You will find a mallet and a wedge there. There is not a single steel bolt or screw in the whole piece except for the curtain rails. It’s very well made.”
How many other men have unbuttoned their coats (and more) in the presence of Mrs. Wallace and her bed?
In Regencyromancelandia everyone gets naked to make love. But did they really?
I drank bohea in Celia’s dressing room:
Warm from her bed, to me alone within.
Her night-gown fastened with a single pin:
Her night-clothes tumbled with resistless grace,
Her bright hair played careless round her face;
Reaching the kettle made her gown unpin,
She wore no waistcoat, and her shift was thin.
|Photo by Sharon Burnston|
You really didn't need to take your clothes off for any sort of sexual contact (drawers were to remain crotchless into the Edwardian period); if you did, you'd then have the problem of lacing oneself back into the stays, which were nearly all back-lacing, unless you'd had the foresight to wear side lacing or front lacing ones.
Confusingly, the Regency definition of “undress” wasn’t ours. According to historical costume expert Cathy Decker, during the Regency period, "Undress" meant simply casual, informal dress. It was also called "dishabille" or "deshabille," the French word for the same type of dress. Another clue is anything "negligently worn" or "à la négligé" is probably either undress or designed to resemble closely undress. Undress is the sort of dress to be worn from early morning to noon or perhaps as late as four or five, depending on the engagements one had. Compared to half dress and full dress, undress was usually more comfortable, more warm, more casual, and much cheaper in cost.
In other words, clothes to slop around in at home, rather than some sexy little nothings for the boudoir—the Regency equivalent of sweatpants.
Nakedness, or its absence, implies a lot of emotions: vulnerability, trust, arousal. It also implies a certain level of power, and that’s something we’re all aware of in reading and writing erotic historical romance: who has the power, who drives the scene, and when and how does a power switch takes place.
What do you think?
Back Cover Book Blurb...
What could be more important than a lady's reputation? Although initially alarmed by their unconventional ways, strait-laced Harry Bishop is content in the service of Lord Shad and his family. But when he is sent to London to rescue Shad's wayward relation from debt and self-destruction, he also has the dubious honor of dealing with the man's illicit lover - troublesome actress Sophie Wallace. A man of dignity and decorum, Mr Bishop is desperate to disassociate himself from the scandalous Sophie. Unfortunately, avoiding her proves harder than he could ever have imagined and soon she's causing him all kinds of bother...
About the Author...
Janet Mullany was raised in England by half of an amateur string quartet and now lives near Washington, DC. Persecuted from an early age for reading too long in the bathroom, she still loves books and is an avid and eclectic reader. She has worked as an archaeologist, classical music radio announcer, arts publicist, and for a small press.