One of my relatives read HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE last night and called me to tell me he was halfway through. I was flattered that he actually read it — given that I’ve known him my entire life, I was hoping he’d shell out $3.99 for it, but reading it was a bonus. And he seemed to enjoy it, although he did say there were fewer submarines in it than the stuff he normally reads (note to self: create a heroine who is into submersibles).
Anyway, he mentioned that he’d had to look up more words with this book than anything he’s read in a long time. “Ton” was the hardest, since a Google search for “ton” won’t easily turn up an explanation on English upperclass society, but there were all sorts of words that flummoxed him (“flummoxed” included, although I don’t think I used it in HEIRESS). And that led me to wonder…how do readers approaching their first Regency romance understand what the heck is going on? I read my first Regency almost twenty years ago, so I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know the difference between a curricle and a phaeton, or that a marquess is ranked higher than a viscount.
What words or social customs did you find confusing when you first started reading Regencies? Anyone who comments on my blog between now and Sunday, January 22nd, at 11:59pm PST will have a chance to win one of three Nook copies of HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE – so have at it! Tell me what words I should define for new Regency readers, and I’ll enter you in the drawing. I’ll also post my definitions on Sunday, and hilarity shall ensue.
And by the way, “the ton” is short for “haut ton”, a French phrase that the English used to describe their aristocratic class — the dukes, earls, barons, and other titled people and their families who were part of the “upper ten thousand”. It’s sort of like a cross between the 1% and being a Hollywood A-lister, except you are born into it and can’t rise into it (unless you were extremely, absurdly wealthy, and even then it would take a couple of generations and some great marriages before your family would be accepted). So Suri Cruise would be haut ton, but that upstart Snooki would never be invited to anything.