I fell in love with the Regency era as a young girl. In addition to Jane Austen’s beloved novels, I was introduced to the period by a collection of Valentine’s Day themed stories. This book still has a special place on my bookshelf to be re-read during the month that celebrates true love.
Valentine’s Day, as we know it, is attributed to the Victorian period. In part, thanks to the 1820s mass production of cards and 1840s standardized post rates. The early 19th century celebrated the occasion as Sweetheart’s Day.
In my debut novel True Love Comes to Delaford, it is mentioned by my heroine as “the most romantic date of the year.”
Strict social customs meant couples had to be discreet in their show of affections. Many glances were exchanged across the room of festive Sweetheart Day balls and country dances. If affordable, bouquets were sent anonymously to a lady’s address, declaring a message of love through the flower chosen. In addition to the ever-popular rose, pansies (you occupy my thoughts) and red tulips (perfect love) were favorite choices. Romantic poems could be relied on to inspire the words a gentleman desired to convey. Popular poets of the era included Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Lord Byron. If those did not suit, Shakespeare’s many sonnets were always an option. A suitor’s tokens included love letters, self-composed poems, and handmade cards left at a lady’s door.
One of the oldest homemade cards dates back to 1790. The heart opens up to reveal a love poem written around smaller hearts. Seen in many correspondence of the period, writing all over the page was the best way to get as much use as possible from the costly paper. Although the interior poem is difficult to read, the lovely verse penned around the outside would already make any young woman’s heart flutter:
My Dear the heart which you behold; Will break when you the same unfold; Even so my heart will sound sick pain; Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.
The lady and gentleman may even receive assistance from other acquaintances. A well-meaning cupid could partner the couple in a game of Whist during a card party, such as the case with my hero and heroine: “To the elderly matchmaker’s delight, Elinor and the Colonel made a very successful team—a far better partnership than with any of the other women. They achieved what was known as a small slam by collecting twelve of the thirteen tricks in the game.”
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, I wish you all a fun and festive Sweetheart’s Day.
Meet Virginia Kohl
Virginia Kohl has been fascinated with the regency era since discovering Jane Austen’s works at the age of eleven. While others dreamt of Willoughby, it was Colonel Brandon who stole Virginia’s heart from the very beginning. Originally from Germany, she shares her Texas home with her illustrator mother and faithful rescue dog. When not passing her love of learning on to her students, this college math professor enjoys reading, writing, and being an active member of her local writer’s guild.
Her debut novel can be found at www.amazon.com/author/virginiakohl
The accompanying tea blend can be found at www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=127735
True Love Comes to Delaford
Elinor Dashwood’s father dies, leaving the fate of his family in the hands of two self-serving vultures. With diminished chances of making a respectable match and several uneventful Seasons behind her, the fiercely independent, bibliophile focuses on helping her family adjust to their new life. However, as her friendship with an honorable gentleman grows, the twenty-year-old begins experiencing feelings she never thought possible.
When Colonel Brandon resigned from the army to become the master of his family’s estate, he thought his best days were behind him. For years, the bachelor of five-and-thirty has successfully avoided every attempt of his well-meaning friends to find him a suitable wife. Although, he soon finds himself questioning his long-held beliefs regarding his single status, when Miss Dashwood strolls into his life.
In this refreshing whimsy, Virginia Kohl explores the possibility of Elinor Dashwood and Colonel Brandon’s devoted friendship turning into more.