In keeping with our format of history first, I often find myself including one chapter, or part of a chapter of my regency romances at Almacks. It is thus important that we all know what Almacks was, for it is a center piece of not only Regency society, but of the raison d’être of all regency romances. It is the hub of the marriage market.
The concept of the marriage market is also what defines the social season. This is a concept that is still prevalent in our modern society. Parents want their children to marry well. They do not want to worry about them. By the time you are a parent with a marriageable child you remember what that passionate love was, but know that the companionship part of marriage, the comfort of marriage is as valuable, if not more valuable that that ardent feeling of love that consumes youth.
The Regency families of the Ton were no different than our sober parents who are urged to foot the bill for an extravagant wedding. (Champagne tastes and wants on beer budgeting means borrowing on your home equity to see junior or princess launched…)
Almacks is the center of this institution. At least it is so in our Regency Romance world. As has been pointed out before, now 200 years since the period, we glamorize what happened then. (Thank you all who love the works of Jane Austen. It has allowed us to clean up the view of the Regency since we take that love to the screen, which we very rarely see the seediness that existed in London and elsewhere.) The Regency Romance, and the formula I follow with our Hero and Heroine sealing their fate with a kiss at the last page of the story is just such a clean presentation of our period.
Almacks is the institution where we can have our heroes see in context all the opportunities for them to make a match with in a particular year. With my heroes something has compelled them forth in the year my story takes place for them to finally bite the bullet and wed. Often a fate that they have been avoiding.
For our Heroines we find that they too usually have an awareness that after their mamas or guardians have secured the crucial voucher, they must be more beautiful, more witty, more charming, then any other lady at the assembly rooms that night. They must banter over the orgeat, or ratafia and catch some great, rich lord’s eye. Their needs to be a certain practicalness when placing Almacks in a chapter. Certainly one can go to have a night’s entertainment there, but it is the Company Xmas party (Since it is Christmas Eve when I write this) You have to go. It is political. You have to be seen there. And you have to make an impression. Your co workers and the invited guests want to see you in a quasi state of being relaxed, but you are still acting restrained.
I bring to this accent of what Almacks was, my own quest for a bride, for I looked for mine at historical reenactment balls. (And found Cheryl there as well) Thus when I have my Heroines waiting to be approached by the Hero, or outline a dance, I bring to that my experiences from when that was my life.
Almacks opened well before the Regency in 1765. William Macall also opened a coffee house which became Brooks gentleman’s club. Sometime after 1800 the Almacks as we use it in our Regencies emerged from its beginnings which was more of a gambling club that woman could go to as other avenues were quite notorious.
By the Regency and while the War was occurring their were six of seven patronesses who were responsible for issuing vouchers which allowed entry to the festivities. No voucher and you could not get in. Thus these six or seven were the arbiters of good taste.
- Ameila Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh
- Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey (Daughter in law of one of Prinny’s mistresses)
- Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper (Mistress of Lord Palmerston-Cupid, and sister to the Prime Minister-Lord Melbourne)
- Maria Molyneux, Countess of Sefton
- Mrs. Drummond Burrell (Wife to a Dandy)
- Dorothea Lieven, Countess de Lieven (Wife of the Russian ambassador)
- Countess Esterhazy (Wife of the Austrian ambassador)
As you see, a list of some heavy hitters. And certainly they must have been full of themselves having such power to deny entry if they chose. Vouchers were good for Wednesday nights when the balls were held. It was the only thing that happened at Almacks, so that is a detail that we must adhere to in our portrayal of the place. (And financially one has to think that open just one night a week the place was a great success.)
This was a place where the established families gathered. Not the nouveau riche. Having a title was no guarantee of admittance, the patronesses met on mondays to decide who got a voucher and whose voucher might be taken away. It was a place to see and be seen, and as mentioned, find your wife.
As a dancer, and knowing the dances of the era, using this as a setting is a benefit. But for a romance, knowing that the hall was the place to see all the lovely young girls fresh from the schoolroom is the perfect setting for my heroes. Our heroines of course will always shine and put to shame all the other ladies in the room. It’s uniqueness for the ten thousand leaders of England, and really a subset of that, is quite distinct. And then, what is more romantic then having our couple on the dance floor for a short space of time bantering about, starting on the path that will lead to their great love.
Water, Water Everywhere but nary a Drop
Those who have been following The Things That Catch My Eye know that I have started on writing a Young Adult tale suggested by my brother, the biochemist. I suppose I could look back and read what I have written about Douglas. He has a Phd. He’s a big USC fan. Has three kids. Teaches High School science now. Worked at the NIH outside DC, and also worked for almost a year for the FBI. They kicked him out because he wanted Yom Kippur off.
That being the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar, it is probably like working to bust criminals if you are a priest on Easter. We are really not supposed to do anything but atone on Yom Kippur. The super religious have all sorts of other rules they go by on that day. (No leather shoes, for instance)
Douglas suggested the idea for our super agent students at the ECO Academy. I have been thinking of a title. I saw a show that talked about Chile and the water rights there. That led to my bringing the villain in having made a fortune in bottled water and now using the Chilean water rights as the theme of our problem. Still searching for a title, I think that Water Water Everywhere is the right one. Those who want to chime in, please leave a comment.
I have the first part of Chapter 2 here as well today.
Pages while between
We closed Aspen, if you have been following the blog a while ago and finished the paperwork from that a year or so ago. There was a lot of fallout from owning and losing Aspen Interiors. A great financial loss and starting all over from zero.
During that time i have been writing not quite full time, but a lot.
A list of first and second drafts completed:
- Space Mine
- Graces of Brantley
- Colonel Pennington
- The End of the World
- Trevanions Legend
- Roses War
- Born to Grace II-The Turmoil
- Tempest and Sword
- Two Peas in A Pod
- Steam and Thunder
- Beggar’s Can’t Be Choosier
- The Shattered Mirror
- Terra’s Birthright
- By the Book
- KoTohLan II-Hoveria
- Lord Falmont’s Muddle
- The Prize is not as Great
- The Fastest Love
- A Trolling We Will Go
- Trolling Down to Old Mah Wee
- Trollings Pass and Present
- Trolling, Trolling
- We’ll All Go A Trolling
- Lord and Key
- Sci Fi Short 1
- Genghis Khan’s Rules for Writers
- Jane Austen and Ghosts
- The Other Shoe
- ECO Agents 1
It is a total of 9915 pages, or Two Million Nine Hundred Seventy Six Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy words. (Doesn’t spelling it make it seem a lot larger?)
About 32 months since I last went to Aspen and then started the new job this week at Newbasis. Back in manufacturing which I hope will allow me to use those skills and reestablish the bank account while we keep book sales growing.
In order to drive sales, for the bottom of our blogs at guest places, which I am now getting, I created a landing page to direct people to all the books and places to buy them. Please comment about what you think of it.
New Landing Page:http://www.davidsbooks.regencyassemblypress.com/davidsbooks.html
While between jobs we have sold the following amounts of our books.
Books released Total Sales
The End of the World 117
The Shattered Mirror 19
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence 432
Genghis Khan’s Rules for Writers 6
A Trolling we Will Go 5
Trolling Down to Old Mah Wee 2
Trollings Pass and Present 1
Total books sold 581
Water Water Chapter 2
“Dr. Phillips-Lee, Dr. Lee, this way please.”
“Dr. Lee, what is your opinion about the situation on the mainland?”
“Dr. Lee, tell us how it feels to be back in Hong Kong.” There were more questions after that as well, all shouted at him, but that was to be expected. Or, he thought sadly, it was what he had come to see as part and parcel of his life.
Daniel raised a hand to the reporters, and squinted at the bright lights from the video cameras filming him. “Come my friends, I shall have you up to my rooms later for interviews. I am sure my staff has arranged such, and if you do not have an interview scheduled, then you can see my assistant. I will answer one question, the one I think is most important to me this week. It is with great happiness that I return to Hong Kong, for my cousins wedding. These are always great occasions in my family and the banquet shall be a great feast. Now I shall rest a few hours from my travels, then we shall meet and you can ask all of your questions. Thank you,” he waved and smiled and then walked into the elevator that was being held for him.
The Peninsula hotel had not changed since he was last there, but he came to Hong Kong for one family function or another, at least twice a year. In 2011, he had been four times. Always the same, now that he had become rather rich. Even before that, he had stayed at the hotel, but not in a suite. Not until he had sold his second company.
“Doesn’t that tire you out, boss?” Moshe Ben-Levi asked. He headed the 12 man team that was Daniel’s security team, as well as monitored the others security teams that worked in one capacity or another for him. Even though he had sold his third company, which had made him very wealthy, it did not mean he hadn’t a few other irons in the fire. Seven other companies that would be considered small. None more than thirty people, except for the Academy. That was an entirely different beast, though, and it wasn’t quite his in regards to ownership. The Academy had partners.
“A little. But it is the price I have to pay now.”
“That and having all this muscle.” Moshe always mocked what he did. Except when he needed to be serious.
“Yes, all the muscle. There is some point in how much you are worth when you have to have muscle as you put it. I hear that Warren Buffet, who is much richer than I, used to be able to drive himself in an old Lincoln.”
“Well, he’s giving all his shekels to charity, so maybe he won’t need as much muscle as you.” Moshe said. But it was clear he didn’t believe it.
The Peninsula Hotel had many rich visitors, and so things were set up so that Dr. Phillips-Lee could have privacy, but also be safe as well. When his second company had sold, and the drug trials had succeeded for medicine to combat blood clotting post surgery, then he had become noticed by all and sundry. He no longer even owned the company when the drug came to market, but because he had sold out and made a great deal of money, the media getting it wrong how much he took, he had become famous. Or even infamous as his drug, Reloosapen was sure to help many.
“I give a lot of shekels to charity as well. But that’s enough for now. I need to rest for a few hours, and then let the vultures in. Where is Patricia? Still downstairs with the press. Very well, could you tell her I’ve gone to lie down?”
“Sure boss. She’s young, she doesn’t need to rest anyway.” Patricia, who was in her mid twenties had been one of the first graduates of the Academy. She then asked to be on his team, and though a brilliant chemist, her organizational skills were even better. She did a great deal of work on the first few hours of the flight from Los Angeles, and then went and slept after they had refueled in Hawaii.
Daniel had never been able to sleep on a plane. Even in the corporate jet with all it’s comforts. And it had a great many. He did nurse a couple drinks, and knowing when they were an hour out of Chek Lap Kok airport, he took the first sleeping pill, for he knew that it would make him drowsy.
Removing his shoes, jacket and tie, he fell onto the bed in the hotel room. It no time, he drifted off to sleep, remembering what it was like to be a child in Hong Kong, fifty years before.
It had not been good then. His father had been a successful trader, and owned a few electronics factories. The mainland had not become the powerhouse that it would later be. Hong Kong was the place that the western world trusted to make their items cheap.
What was difficult for Daniel is that his Chinese father had married a British woman. A relationship that lasted for some years and produced Daniel, but only he.
With mixed parentage, he didn’t fit in, and his father spent far too much time working, then remembering to value his mother. She left.
It happens, Daniel had told himself. She had been born in Hong Kong, but when she left, she moved to England where she had family. It was clear that when the colony reverted back to China, she had little desire to remain, especially as the ex-wife of a man who had begun to see the writing on the wall and spout communist dogma.
Not that his father believed it, as most in Hong Kong did not. But China could prove to be a hard taskmaster and freedoms were soon to be forgotten memories. Daniel, a gift from his mother, held dual citizenship. She did love him enough to pull him from the colony and to an education at Oxford. But when he had finished, staying for graduate studies, he returned to Hong Kong and began his first venture.
He had seed money from his father, who now had a few factories in mainland China and was navigating very difficult waters as China learned how better to serve and then master Western Capitalism.
As a employer, then, setting up his first laboratory, his mixed heritage was not a problem any longer. It was a bonus. He had ties to the United Kingdom. He had ties to the Western World. People who came to work for him, only hated him as they hated any other boss. He was never taunted about his english mother again.
When his research, which had only cost money for three years started to show promise, and then results, his father negotiated a sale of the patents and research.
At first Daniel was beyond angered. He could not believe the betrayal, and soon came to realize that the company was bought to keep his research from the market. His father had made thirty million Hong Kong dollars from the sale, and Daniel had made ten.
His father pointed out that they had the one offer, the company that had offered would just as easily used the money to quash them. And that it was to be at least ten more years of his pouring money into Daniel’s company with no sure end in sight that they would make money. And his father only had so many dollars that he could afford to give Daniel.
Daniel had left Hong Kong again, but had not gone all the way back to his mother in England. Instead, he had stopped approximately half way in California. Sunny Southern California.
He could afford a beach house with his money and spent the next few months living in Malibu. That was where the second idea came and he started another company, this time seeding it with the money that his father had given him from the first.
Again they had not stuck with the research all the way to completion, but at stage two trials sold Reloosapen to E4A and this time made a great deal more money. The media noted the company sold for well north of three billion US dollars. But Daniel had taken on partners. His stake was worth just over half a billion. That was more than the money his father made in all his factories.
It gave him enough wealth that he could do whatever he wished, but a nagging desire to stay in science and work with bright people had him start his third company weeks after he had left his second.
And what a bidding war that became.