In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages.
Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation.
After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.
This book. Oh my gosh this book. This story takes everything you know about gender roles and history and turns it upside down and sideways. I loved this book. From how Lady Lucien dealt with the news of her impending marriage. To how he and “Robert” grew to love each other. From start to finish I couldn’t put the book down. I truly didn’t want the book to end. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re missing out!
When I was writing my blog post request for this book a friend told me that Vicktor wanted to talk more about the research of the historical aspect of the book. After talking with Amanda (thanks hun!) I knew I wanted to know more about it as well. So that’s what I had him talk about. What he gave me is amazing. Yes, it’s long. But so worth the read if you enjoyed the book as much as I did. So take the time to read and enjoy!
What Do You Mean The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Wasn’t Written Until 1816?
When I started doing the research for Groom Of Convenience I went into it with my eyes wide open. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I also knew that I wasn’t going to do easy, basic research. Growing up, reading historical romances, fiction, mysteries, horrors, etc. I’d found that historical romances were very… shallow when it came to the historical part of the story. I’m a nerd. I accept and embrace that part of myself. I watch the History Channel for fun. When I was punished as a kid, my biological mother would tell me to go and read the encyclopedia because I wasn’t allowed to read anything else (she would also tell me to read them whenever I ran out of books and we couldn’t afford to buy any new ones), she quickly learned that this wasn’t a punishment for me. I loved to read. I loved to learn. And when I was running up to her or other family members telling them, excitedly, about some new piece of knowledge I’d gleaned from the large overstuffed Brittanica books, she stopped telling me to read them as a form of discipline.
I was on the letter “P” at that point.
So whenever I would pick up a historical novel I expected to read not only about the attire, the language, the buildings, and the carriages, but the culture, I wanted to smell the meals, I wanted to know about the plants that were growing at the time, I wanted to know about the animals. I wanted to know about the laws, the wars, the battles, the scandals, the way the family structure ran, how were the shoppes? Everything. I wanted to feel as if I had been plopped down in the middle of history and had become one with the environment.
Sadly, that didn’t happen with a lot of the historical romances that I read.
It did happen, however, with a lot of the historical mysteries, fictions, and thrillers. Perhaps it’s because they are not focusing so much on the dynamic of the relationship, but more on the external conflict, but whatever it was, I wanted to bring that same concept into Groom Of Convenience.
So, when I started to do research for the book I created a “World Building Bible” for the series just like I do for any other series that I write. However, unlike other series, instead of me creating the answers, I was researching the answers. Bookmarking pages, websites, buying books and movies (I spent hundreds of dollars before the book was even published just on books and movies for research), listening to audio of British people speaking. I immersed myself in English culture. All day long, every day, while writing Groom Of Convenience or while doing research, for months, I was either listening to Torchwood (mmm, John Barrowman), Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Spartacus, or listening to Justin Timberlake’s “Amnesia” from his 20/20 album (because for some reason that puts me in the mood to write Regency. Don’t ask me why.)
With my “World Building Bible” I started off listing everything and then just filled in the blanks from different sites, reference and research books, or different lexicons that I found.
Here is my World Building Bible that I use for creating a series and what I used for Groom Of Convenience:
- History: What is the history of the city/state/country/world you have created? Why is this the history?
- Laws: What are the laws in regards to women? Homosexuality? Slavery? Child abuse? Rape? Crime? Owning a home? Employment? Schooling? Education? Etc.? How do their laws differ from our own? Why is this?
- Setting: Where does the book/series take place? Describe in detail. How does the appearance of the environment differ from our own?
- Religion: What are the major religions of the book/series? Do your characters believe in any major deity? Why or why not? Do your characters give their god a special name? Why or why not? How does their religion differ from those that exist in our world?
- Governmental Body: What are the major governmental bodies in your book/series? Are your characters involved with them in any way? How? Why or why not? How does one get involved with the government in this world? Who was in control at the time your book/series is set? Is it a monarchy or a democracy? Why? How long has this been in place?
- Familial Structure: What is the familial structure of most homes? Is this based on social standing, money, residential, race, etc.? Does this book contain mpreg? Fempreg? Is this a possibility? Do the grandparents live with the family? What is the role of the parents in the lives of the children? How much freedom do children have? When is a child allowed to make their own decisions? Is adultery common in marriages in your world? Is marriage common in your world? Does the father stay around in your world or does he impregnate the mother/breeder and then leave? How many children are common? Do the children stay in the home with the parents or are they shipped off somewhere else? Does the mother/breeder work outside of the home? Does the father support the family?
- Sexuality: Is homosexuality legal? Is BDSM legal? Does BDSM/TPE even exist in your world? Does bisexuality exist in your world? Is bisexuality legal? Do transgenders exist in your world? Do hermaphrodites exist in your world? What is the law about homosexuality? What is the ratio of heterosexuals to homosexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals, and asexuals? At what age, in your world, does one discover their sexuality? What is the age of consent in your world?
- Wars: Are there wars in your world? What wars have occurred so far? Is your country currently at war at the time your book/series is taking place? What does war look like? Is magic involved? What types of weapons are used in these wars? When were these weapons created? What type of material was used to create these weapons? Who invented these weapons? Who has access to the various types of weapons? Are weapons illegal? How often do wars break out? What are the wars about? What countries or planets are involved in the different wars? Is your country often victorious? Are your main characters soldiers? Why or why not? Do your characters have any battle scars? Why or why not? Do your characters have any war stories? Why or why not? Are there any notable war heroes in your country or on your planet? Who? Why or why not? How are they notable? Do they have any family? Is there any scandal surrounding them?
- Births: What is the birth rate on your planet? What is the birth rate in your city/state/country/planet? What is the birth ratio of males? What is the birth ratio of females? What is the birth ratio of male to females at the time period you are setting the book/series? Is there a reason for this? What is the theory behind male births versus female births? Is labor complicated? Is labor done in a hospital or at home? Why? Is there medical care? What is the birth rate of your country compared to the rest of the planet? Are there different races born on your planet? Why or why not? Are there different genders/sexes born on your planet? Why or why not?
- Deaths: What is the death rate on your planet? What is the death rate in your city/state/country/planet? What is death rate of males? What is the death rate of females? What is the death rate of infants and children? What is the death rate of animals? Is there a reason for this? What is the number one reason most people die during this time period? Is there medical care? Are there funeral homes? Are there caskets? Is there a mourning period? What happens when people die in your book/series? Are people immortal in your book/series? Why or why not? What does death look like in your book/series? Is there a mortician? What is the mortician called?
- Statistics: What are the statistics for wealth on your planet? Education? Crime? Death? Birth? Marriages? Divorce?
- Myths: Are there any myths on your planet? What are they?
- Financial Outlook: What is the financial gap between the wealthy, middle class, and poor in your book/series on your planet? Are the different social structures given names? Do they live in different areas? Are these areas given certain names? Are they divided by color or race?
- Education: What does education look like on your planet? Is it given to everyone or only a select few? What are the subjects? What are they taught? Is it taught everywhere or only in certain countries/states/cities/regions? Are only certain genders taught certain things? Does education stop at a certain age? Why or why not? Is education only taught to certain races? Why or why not? What is the classroom structure? How many teachers are given for how many students? Are there principals? Are there school buildings? Are there colleges and universities? Are there school books? Why or why not? Is education free or does is cost to attend? Why or why not? What are the different schools on your planet?
- Careers: What are the most popular jobs on your planet? What careers do your main characters have? Do your characters have careers? Why or why not? How much do they make on their jobs? Is having a job acceptable for them? Why or why not? How long does it take them to obtain their current position? Do they report to anyone? Does anyone report to them? Do they have to wear a uniform? Why or why not? What does their uniform look like? What are the least popular jobs on your planet? What kind of education does it take to obtain the career that your main characters have? What school did they attend to obtain it?
- Transportation: What are the various forms of transportation on your planet? How are they made? Who invented them? When were they invented? What trouble did they originally run into when they were first invented? Is there any trouble with them now? What transportation advances are they currently working on? What transportation does your characters use in your book/series? What are the various colors available? What type of materials are used? How long does it take to travel around with transportation (from your character’s home to the store, to church, to work, to the other character’s home, etc.)
- Entertainment: What are the different forms of entertainment? How much does it cost to enjoy them? What type of entertainment can be had in the home? What type of entertainment can be had outside of the home? What forms of entertainment are illegal? What is the most popular forms of entertainment? What are the least popular forms of entertainment? What entertainment does your characters often partake in? Is there music? What kind? Who is a popular singer? Who is a popular author? What is the most popular book written at the time? What is the most popular poem? What is the most popular play? What is the most popular dance?
- Military: Is there military on your planet/in your country? What are they called? What is their uniform? Who are they led by? Is your main character involved in it? Why or why not? How long does it take to become an officer? What is your character’s rank in the military? What is your character’s job description in military?
- Allies: Who are your country’s/planet’s allies? How long have they been allies? How did they become allies? What date did they become allies? What is the name of the leader of the allies’ country?
- Rivals: Who are your country’s/planet’s rivals? How long have they been rivals? How did they become rivals? What date did they become rivals? What is the name of the leader of the rivals’ country?
- Flora: What is the name of the flora that is growing at the time you have set the book/series? What are the different colors? What is the scientific name? What is the common name? What is the different medicinal properties? What are the different regions the different flora grown in? What flora grow in the region you have set the book/series? Do your characters have a favorite type?
- Fauna: What are the different animals that are in the region you have set the book/series? What are their scientific name? Are any being shipped? Are there any being bred? Are there any hybrids? Are there any new species? Why or why not? What are their names? Who created them? Are there any pets that are common in the region you have set the book/series? Are there any laws that are specific to animals in the region you have set the book/series? Are there any animals that are illegal or that are not seen in the region you have set the book/series? Why or why not?
- Meals: When are meals had in your book/series? What are the common types of meals? What do meals generally consist of? How are meals cooked? Who cooks the meals? How are meals prepared? How are meals set? How are meals served? How many meals are served on any given day? Are there special meals in your country/planet? Who serves the meals? Are the meals the same or are they different each time?
- Language: What is the language spoken on your planet? Are there different languages spoken in different regions? What is the language spoken in your city/state/country/region? Is there a specific accent? Are there specific phrases? Is there a certain dialect? Do you need to create a language? If so, create it. If not, are there special words for certain things? Is the language restricted by a historical timeline? Do certain people speak more eloquently than others? Is profanity looked down upon? Is profanity restricted to gender? Is profanity restricted to social standing?
- Historical Figures: Who are the historical figures of the time period you have set the book/series in? What did they accomplish? Who are their family members? Do they come in contact with your characters? Why or why not? In what way? How often?
- Scandals: Are there many scandals that happen in your city/state/country/planet? Why or why not? What are they? How are they discovered? How are they handled?
- Crime Rate: What is the crime rate in the city/state/country/planet where you have placed the book/series? What is the crime rate for murder? Robbery? Rape? Child molestation? Kidnapping? Prostitution? Is sodomy illegal? Why or why not? If it is, what is the crime rate for it? What happens to those who are found guilty for different crimes in different regions around the planet?
- Medical Advancement: How far has medicine come along in the time period on your planet/country? What is the view of medicine on your planet/country/state/city and in other parts of the world? Do your characters have to travel to other parts of the world to seek treatment? Who is the leading doctor in your country/planet? What are the medical advancements at the time? What is currently being worked on in medicine at the time you have set the book/series?
- Science: How far has science come along in your time period on your planet? What is the view of science on your planet/your country? Who is the leading scientist in your country/planet? What are the scientific advancements at the time? What is currently being worked on in science at the time you have set the book/series?
- Romance: What does romance look like on your planet? How do characters show their romantic sides on your planet?
- Marriage: Does marriage exist on your planet? How long does it take to get married? How long does it take to get a marriage license? How old do you have to be to get a license? What are the steps that have to be taken to get a marriage license? What does marriage look like? Who can get married?
- Wedding: Are there any wedding customs on your planet/in your country? What are they? Is there a wedding prayer? Are there wedding vows? Is there specific wedding clothing the characters must wear? Are there wedding chapels? Who performs the wedding ceremonies? Are there wedding receptions? Are there wedding rituals? Are there engagement parties? Are there wedding rings? Are there engagement rings? Is there a proposal?
- Divorce: Is divorce legal on your planet? How long does it take to get one? How much does it cost to obtain one? Who can file to get a divorce? On what grounds can they file? What steps have to be taken?
- Women’s Lib: Are women equal on your planet? Why or why not? How are they treated by men on your planet?
- Race Relations: How are race relations on your planet? Does slavery exist? Has it ever existed? Does racism exist? Has it ever existed? Has the Holocaust happened? Has it or will it ever happen? Will the internment camps for Japanese Americans happen? Have they happened? Is interracial marriage illegal? Why or why not? How are other ethnicities treated? Does the KKK exist? Does the Black Panther party exist? Does the mob exist? Do gangs exist? How will others react to an interracial couple? Why is this?
- Atmosphere/Weather: What is the atmosphere/weather like in your city/state/country/and all over the planet? Does it have seasons? What are they called? How often do they change? What affect does this have on the body? What affect does this have on the flora and fauna? What affect does this have on the environment/residences/commercial areas?
- News: How is news shared on your planet? How is gossip shared on your planet? How does your character feel about gossip and news? Are your characters involved in the news and gossip? Is news dispensed daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, or yearly? Is it shared by newspaper, magazine, tabloid magazine, internet, blog, etc.?
- Society: What is society like on your planet? Is it sophisticated? Is it classless? Is it urban? Is it idiocracy? Is it high-class? Do they attend the symphony or attend sports games? Are your characters involved in society or not?
- Culture: What are the different cultures of your planet/country/people? How do they interact with one another?
- Residential Areas: What do the residential areas on your planet/country/state/city/region look like? How close together are they homes? How expensive are the wealthiest homes and how inexpensive are the poorer ones? How many homeless people live on the streets? Is there any governmental housing? Are there any orphanages? How did one purchase a home? How many acres was a home built on? What was the layout of a big home? What was the layout of a small home? What was inside and outside of a big/small home? Where was a big home located? Where was a small home located? Does your character have a big or small home? Why?
- Commercial Areas: What do commercial areas on your planet look like? How many shoppes are there? How often do people go shopping? What is shopping like on your planet? How do they pay? What is commercialism like? What are some of the most popular shoppes on your planet/country/state/city? Who owns them? When did they open? What about bars? Does prostitution exist? Is it legal? Strip clubs? Is it legal? Nightclubs? Are they legal? Restaurants?
- Anatomy: What is the anatomy of the people on your planet? Is mpreg an option? Is fempreg an option? If so, how? Do aliens exist? Is this a paranormal planet/book/series? What is the chemical, physical, and DNA makeup of humans on your planet?
After all of this research, which as you can see was A LOT, I was more than ready to start writing Groom Of Convenience and even though not everything I researched made it into the book itself, it will definitely make its way into the series. I spent waaaay too much time researching everything for it not to. LOL.
Thanks for having me!
Lucien inhaled deeply and then began to softly sing “Ae Fond Kiss,” a popular Tscottish ballad written twenty years prior, sliding his eyelids closed, afraid of any negative reaction from his betrothed. His mother used to sing it to him every night before leaving for a ball or party she was obligated to attend. Rosemary would sing the song and then kiss the top of his head. Annabelle would be waiting at the door, and when Rosemary finished, thinking that Lucien was asleep, she would meet Annabelle at the door, and the two of them would share a sweet kiss and then leave. Lucien loved those late-night lullabies by his mother, cherished them, and when he went to bed, even at his advanced age, he would sing the song to himself until he would fall asleep.
Finishing the last note of the song, Lucien opened his eyes and looked at Heathcliff, expecting to find him asleep, only to find him looking at him in wonder. “What?” he asked. “You have a beautiful voice, Lucien,” Heathcliff told him. Lucien blushed and ducked his head. “Thank you,” he whispered. Heathcliff’s fingers under his chin brought his face back up, and he found himself looking into Heathcliff’s eyes. “Don’t do that. Don’t hide from me. Never hide from me,” Heathcliff told him. “You have a beautiful voice. One that has obviously been handcrafted by the very touch of God. The beauty of your voice is rivaled only by the beauty of your face, which does not compare to the beauty of your spirit.”
Vicktor “Vic” Alexander wrote his first story at the age of ten and hasn’t stopped writing since. He loves reading about anything and everything and is a proud member of the little known U.N. group (Undercover Nerds) because while he lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps sports, he also breathes history and science fiction and grew up a Trekkie. But don’t ask him about Dungeons & Dragons, because he has no idea how to play that game. When it comes to writing he loves everything from paranormal to contemporary to fantasy to historical and is known not only for being the Epilogue King but also for writing stories that cross lines and boundaries that he doesn’t know are there. Vic is a proud father of two daughters one of whom watches over him from Heaven with his deceased partner Christopher. Vic is a proud trans* and gay man, and when he is not writing, he is hanging out with his friends, or being distracted by videos of John Barrowman, Scott Hoying, and Shemar Moore. Vicktor has published numerous bestselling novels and has a WIP list that makes him exhausted just thinking about. He knows that he will be still be writing about hot men falling in love with each other, long after he is living in an assisted living facility, flirting with the hot, male nurses.
Where To Buy:
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5542
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