Courting the Countess
by Donna Hatch
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to the wedding, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?
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by Regency Historical romance author, Donna Hatch
The idea that we’d let our parents or guardians arranged our marriages leaves the modern day man and woman laughing–or possibly cringing. Yet this was a common custom throughout history in nearly every country of the world. (Indeed, it still exists in some countries.) I’m sure a few of those marriages ended up as love matches, while most grew into a merely mutual amiability born of a determination to make the most of a difficult situation. However, many were supremely miserable.
Such scenarios are a favorite for the romance reader and author alike, inspiring countless historical romance novels about love springing from an arranged marriage. Such was the case for my very newest Regency Romance novel, Courting the Countess.
Which begs the question; why were arranged marriages so common?
I can’t speak for other countries, but in England, the institution of marriage appears to be more a union of rank and property rather than of love. Though many popular ballads and plays of the era praised true love, in reality, practicability ruled more heavily than affairs of the heart.
During the Regency era, women—even ladies of the gentry and aristocracy—possessed very little independence. They were, in essence, property of their fathers until they married, at which time they became property of their husbands. Therefore, parents cautiously settled their daughters in what they deemed were ‘good matches.’ They valued security over love because in a time when divorce was almost unheard of, and scandalous, marriage was a lifetime commitment, for better or worse. Parents searched for gentlemen who would keep their daughter fed and sheltered. They could only hope that love, or at the very least, regard, would bloom later.
On the other hand, Amanda Vickery, in her book A Gentleman’s Daughter contends that many people married for affection; that it was, in fact, more common than marrying for rank or wealth. Still, arranged marriages amid the aristocracy and very wealthy were common, often with the couple only having met a few times, or not at all, prior to the wedding.