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Mining in Cornwall

The Secrets Of Lord Lynford Book Cover The Secrets Of Lord Lynford
(The Cornish Dukes, Book 1)
Bronwyn Scott
Fiction, (Mills & Boon Historical)
HarperCollins UK
December 26, 2019
368

He’s destined never to marry She might change his mind... Eaton Falmage, Marquess of Lynford, is an expert at distracting himself from the painful truth which means he’ll never wed. Seducing mining widow Eliza Blaxland seems the perfect diversion. Until he learns Eliza guards her heart as fiercely as her hard-won independence. He longs for more, but that would mean confessing his secret…and risk losing her forever!

This is an historical romance but written in a very different style and subject matter.

It does however, reemphasise the issue with marriage and property ownership of the Victorian ages and before. It wasn’t until The Married Women’s Property Act 1870 that women were allowed to keep their earnings rather than hand them over to their husband or father. But this was not enough, so in 1882 The Married Women’s Property Act  was passed and now:

  • A wife could hold her own wages and investments independent from her husband.
  • A wife could inherit up to £200.00 in her own right and keep the money.
  • A wife could keep property inherited from her next of kin as long as it was not a Trust asset.
  • A wife could inherit and hold rented property.
  • Both the husband and wife could be made liable to support their children.

In 1893 an Act was passed that entitled married women the same rights to their property as unmarried – and by the way, this Act also applied to formally engaged couples. There were further Acts of Parliament in 1964 and 1970 to revise the earlier Acts and make them uptodate.

In the Novel, we have a widow who by virtue of the death of her husband and the presents he had gifted her before, had become the majority shareholder in a Mining Corporation and thus Chairman. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with many of the other men on the Board who held shares as they did want to be governed by a woman. They did not believe that women knew enough about business and that their place was in the home having babies. So a power struggle ensued. This was the time when Cornish mining reached its height, before foreign competition depressed the price of copper, and later tin, to a level that made the extraction of Cornish ore unprofitable. The areas of Cornwall around Gwennap and St Day and on the coast around Porthtowan were among the richest mining areas in the world. And copper had been mined and tin traded, in Cornwall since around 2000BC. At its height the Cornish tin mining industry had around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines (many mines reached under the sea and some went down to great depths). This boom went on until the late1800s as lead was also discovered in these mines and around, but by 1880 the boom was failing and mines began to shut down. [Wikipedia]

In the meantime, we have our Lord who had had measles as a teenager.

It is a rare complication of measles that can cause sterility in males if there is severe testicular inflammation, although sterility is more often caused by mumps of course. So a romance between these two was an issue – firstly she was Trade; secondly she was older than him; and thirdly he believed she would want more children. And our widow was very wary about the prospect of marrying again as then she would lose control of her business and fortune and her daughter’s future.

I thought this was an interesting story told with great style and even though it lacked humour it was rich in snippets about just how the Victorian world was developing in the Sciences and investigations of the natural world. 5

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You can’t dance when soldiers are approaching

The Last Waltz Book Cover The Last Waltz
by Dorothy Mack
Historical Fiction , Romance
Sapere Books
Pub Date 20 Nov 2019

Can Adrienne reverse her family’s misfortune? When her gambling father dies, young Adrienne Castle must find a way to support her family. In desperation, she visits a gaming house in disguise, intent on winning back some of her father’s lost fortune using her skill at cards. But when her brother falls ill and her luck runs out, Adrienne is forced to seek the aid of a wealthy distant cousin, Lord Dominic Creighton. With a beautiful fiancée and a promising military career, Dominic has everything he could wish for and to her surprise, Adrienne finds him generous and warm-hearted. Despite her poverty and lack of experience in respectable society, Dominic tries to make her feel comfortable in his world. And as their bond grows, it seems that Adrienne is in danger of staking her heart on a man who is already in love with another…

This historical story is set in Brussels just before the time of the Battle of Waterloo, June 1815 Allied forces, consisting of British, Dutch, Belgian and German soldiers, thwarted the attempts of European domination by the French general and emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. This battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), Waterloo was the definitive battle for Wellington and and Napoleon and the war  which took the lives of 5 million people.  See: https://booksgosocial.com/2019/10/29/the-regency-decade-1815-part-one-waterloo/

This site tells us a little about what was happening in Brussels from 1812 after until just before the Battle and the novel continues with this society as its backdrop. There was a social whirl that ex-pat Britons and their Continental compatriots enjoyed, including of course, the Officers from the Allied Forces – who were very dashing and usually of a high social rank as such rank was purchased for the young family scions.

So  against this background we have the story of a small family struggling with poverty but well-bred and distantly related to those with more money and titles.  It was common amongst the better off in English society to take in poorer relatives and help them either to launch themselves into Society, or to find suitable employment. Here we have a child with rheumatic fever, which of course is serious even today and then could easily kill or leave sufferers with heart conditions.  Whilst this disease is now rare, in the late eighteenth century it was more common and also becoming recognised as a result of streptococcal infections that include pharyngitis, impetigo, and scarlet fever but rarely recognised as the continuum of these illnesses. It becomes Rheumatic Fever when it begins to affect the organs. Scarlet fever seems to occur in waves and thus rheumatic fever follows.

Part of the storyline involved the game of Piquet and gambling. Piquet is a card game rarely played these days, it is a 2 player game with 32 cards. Similar to whist it has card combinations and tricks but where the object is to reach 100 points within 6 deals. If you fail to reach 100 then you are penalised. I guess you gamble on winning the 100 points. There is a set of complicated instructions about being called the Elder or the Younger that you can obtain if you really want to play by a gentleman called David Parlett. Interestingly the rules now played were not established until much later in the 19th century than this book is set even though the game started in the 16th century. You can also buy sets of Piquet cards.

I liked this story. It was complex and long enough to develop the characters and their situation and imbed it into a historical context. The style was easy to read and flowed well.

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Meet a Blacksmith from France

The Duke's Embrace Book Cover The Duke's Embrace
12 Dukes of Christmas
by Erica Ridley
Historical Fiction , Romance
WebMotion
Pub Date 3 Dec 2019

Unpaid and under-appreciated journalist Miss Eve Shelling never goes anywhere without a trusty notebook and her overprotective Duenna—who happens to be a bullmastiff. Eve learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted. She’s definitely not falling head-over-heels for the deceptively charming subject of her front-page column. Local blacksmith Monsieur Sébastien le Duc is the pillar of his community—when he’s not pillaging elsewhere. He’s a rakish dandy with a heart of stolen gold and two teeny tiny secrets. One happens to be a wee international smuggling operation. The other involves losing his heart to an ambitious journalist determined to expose the truth at any cost… The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

Another story about Cressmouth in the series of the 12 Dukes. This time we meet Bastien another of the le Duc family.  He and his brother Luc run the Smithy for the town, the only smithy, which means that as they want to return to France and sell the smithy business, property and all apart from the cottage, the town will be without a blacksmith.

Alongside this we have an enterprising yung woman who runs the Cressmouth Chronicle. Her father claims to own it and run it, but a. He took her dowry to finance the purchase of the type and printer, and b. She does all the writing and printing work, he just OKs the content! So much for women’s property rights in this period.

So when she wants to write a juicier story than the usual ‘How wonderful Cressmouth is’ and ‘The town that celebrates Christmas’ etc etc they disagree. Especially when she wants to write about the Frenchmen running the Smithy…

And so a romance ensues.

The usual standard of writing we come to expect from Erica and nice content. Again we growl when we hear about the property rights of men versus women and how women are ‘ruled’ by the men in their family.. and find ourselves grateful that we no longer need a co-sponsor for our mortgages (I did when I was much younger) and that we can vote and run our own businesses.

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The Duke Smiles

Joy to the Duke Book Cover Joy to the Duke
(Love is All Around Book 3)
Darcy Burke
Historical Romance
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 12 Nov 2019

Denied the woman of his dreams by his father’s meddling, Calder Stafford, has spent the last decade proving himself to be self-sufficient, austere, and utterly uninterested in joy. Now that he is the Duke of Hartwell, he’ll enact his revenge by abolishing the holiday traditions his father loved so well. His sisters will not sway him and neither will the woman—newly returned to town—who was stolen from him.

Returning to Hartwell to care for her mother, widow Felicity Garland is delighted to be back home, especially for the holidays. However, the jolly festivities she expects are nowhere to be found. When she goes to the source of the problem—the duke—she’s astonished to see how much the young man she once loved has hardened. It’s up to her to break through the impenetrable fortress around his heart—not just to save Christmas, but to save him.

As always a nice read from Darcy. We follow up Mr Grump from the previous novels and his love life and what happened with him and his father.

The storyline continues with orphans and women who need homes due to missing husbands for whatever reason and we have a type of Dickens Xmas novel without the ghosts of Christmas Past but lots of Actions of Father’s Past to replace it.

This book really just rounds up the story lines from the previous novels in the series without any more social commentary of the era – except a side of doctors bleeding people when they are very ill which really did no good at all. Doctors were basically, mostly, incompetent and a transmitter of diseases.

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Gifts keep coming

The Gift of the Marquess Book Cover The Gift of the Marquess
by Darcy Burke
Romance Historical
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 15 Oct 2019

The Marchioness of Darlington wants nothing more than a houseful of children, but after three years of marriage Poppy has given up hope. When she learns her husband doesn’t share her sense of loss, Poppy tries to soothe her aching heart by helping at a local institution for single women and mothers. But the arrival of an expectant mother only reignites her longing, driving the wedge between her and Gabriel deeper. After losing his mother and sister in childbirth, Gabriel, the Marquess of Darlington, is secretly glad his wife hasn’t been able to conceive. He can’t bear the thought of losing her, not even to achieve their dream of having a family. Desperate to prove his love, Gabriel makes a shocking proposition. It’s a risk, but if he can overcome Poppy’s fears and hesitation, he can give her what she wants most for Christmas. From the USA Today bestselling author of The Untouchables comes a Christmas Regency series! Don't miss these holiday classics retold with love, passion, and heart. Book One: The Red Hot Earl Book Two: The Gift of the Marquess Book Three: Joy to the Duke

As always Darcy has managed to add in a social commentary to her Historical Romance series of novels.

In this book we consider the issues of illegitimacy; rape by aristocracy of housemaids and the inability of the maids to bring them to justice; poor laws and the dreadful houses for single women with children that separated them and failed to provide a means to earning a living; sterility when you need an heir and spare for the title; and finally childbirth and the dreadful rates of deaths in childbirth and of babies.

There were 3 main causes of childbirth death up till the 20th century.

1. Puerperal fever or Pyrexia – which was carried by doctors and midwives on their hands and clothes from one patient to anther due to lack of washing, disinfecting etc.

2. Placenta previa or separation of the placenta and thus haemorrhages.  If the uterus failed to contract after birth or there was some trauma, all of these could cause blood loss which they were unable to stop and of course, there were o transfusions then.

3. Eclampsia or pre-eclampsia.

In all, there were up to 25 deaths in childbirth for every 1000. And still births were not recorded so we have no knowledge of just how many babies were born and not named. It was the custom for many families not to name the child until it had lived for a week or even a month. And thus a death would not be officially recorded.

It was no wonder then, that people feared childbirth… I know I would have died in childbirth if I had lived then and so would my son.

All the above not withstanding, it was a well crafted story with a nice romance and good story-telling. I enjoy her books and they do tend to make me think about the social inequalities and other social issues, which is a good thing, and makes these stories just that little bit more.

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