Message From The Author
ON UNREQUITED LOVE, FAMILY HISTORY AND
THE REGENCY ROMANCE
By Faygie Levy
In the days when America was still in its infancy, young Kitty Floyd captured the heart and imagination of an older man named James Madison. Though 16 years separated them, Kitty agreed to marry James when she was a mere 15 years old.
Within a few years, Kitty gave her heart to another man, and she and James never saw each other again. James, as we all know, went on to marry a woman named Dolley and serve as America's fourth president. Kitty, for her part, went on to marry a Presbyterian minister, have several children and become an ancestor of bestselling Avon author Sophia Nash.
And it was this story of her kinswoman from long ago and the former president that helped inspire the second book in Nash's Barely Bereaving Beauties trilogy, The Kiss, which was released last month by Avon and received a Top Pick from RT. "It did give me the idea, when I saw the title of the article [about Kitty and James, 'The Unrequited Love of James Madison,' in Newsday]," says Nash. "It was a theme I hadn't explored before, and it's such a universal theme. Almost everybody has experienced unrequited love."
Unlike real life, The Kiss provides the happily-ever-after romance readers long for. But the road to that end is not
easy for onetime childhood friends Quinn and Georgiana.
But just how did Nash discover her connection to Kitty Floyd?
She has a cousin to thank. He had a two-foot-square paper genealogy tree that he didn't need and offered it to the author,
who happily took it.
While she was going over the tree, one name sounded familiar -- Gen. William Anson Floyd. "I must have been paying attention in history class," jokes Nash, noting that Floyd was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence. She then Googled his daughter, Catherine, aka Kitty, and the rest is history.
"She's wild," Nash says, adding that Kitty's grandson became a minister and was famous for having said that society's decline could be traced to the waltz.
Oddly enough, that scandalous dance was popular in the Regency era, the time period Nash in which sets her stories.
"The whole thing with the Regency era and the ballroom was that the waltz was considered scandalous," explains Nash. At the exclusive Almack hall for instance, young women needed to get permission from the "seven patronesses" to dance the waltz "because it was an embrace."
And while it may have been scandalous for some women, the heroines in Nash's series needn't worry. Since they're all widowed, the same rules don't apply. Like her previous titles, The Kiss features a slightly older heroine, one well into her 20s. "The heroines I have are more seasoned and experienced about life. They've had some hard knocks in life and have to figure out a way past that. I love stories about redemption -- whether it is the hero or heroine or both, the stories have to show more than boy meets girl.
"What's interesting to me," Nash continues, "is seeing the growth of the character and how they can find a way into love. I really think people have to learn to accept themselves before they can love somebody else."
Since people of all eras have troubles and issues to overcome, what is
it about the Regency era that speaks to Nash? According to the author, it's partially that the era reminds her of America's not-too-distant past.
"I liken those 10 or 11 years of the Regency period to the 1950s and '60s in America," she says. "The '50s were after World War II, and everyone was solid, responsible. They got jobs, had families ... then all of sudden you have rock 'n' roll, free love, drugs, contraception, long hair, bell bottoms, hippies and the Vietnam War.
"Young people were going off and being killed, and the Regency period was very similar in that fashion.
"Up until then you had the strict Georgian period. They wore powdered wigs and danced the minuet. Then all of a sudden the Regency period happened and you had people going off to war and putting their lives on the line." And like in the '60s, the clothes played a role. "The big thing you saw was the fashion. Instead of tight corsets, you had gowns cut down to the nipple line and woman dampening their petticoats to make their gowns cling to them."
"It was this tremendously romantic time when things changed."
And for Quinn and Georgiana, that change begins with The Kiss.
Excerpt from The Kiss
"What did you tell my daughter?" The Marquis of Ellesmere demanded. "That I kissed you quite ... what? Properly? Thoroughly? Passionately?"
"How ridiculous. I, of course, told her you kissed me quite apologetically."
He stepped closer and again that fleeting wildness appeared in her eyes. He spoke softly, "Is that really how you think I kissed you, Georgiana?"
"Of course," she whispered.
He stroked one side of her face as lightly as he would a falcon's sleek wings. "Well then, it would appear you know as little about kisses as you seem
to think I remember about the past."
She looked at him sharply. "I know enough."
"Really?" He examined her face. "I beg to differ. If it had involved a simple apology it would have been entirely different -- more chaste. I've no excuse for my behavior to you yesterday. I can only plead a momentary loss of sanity."
She paled visibly. "I know very well that only a loss of sanity would move a man to kiss me. I hardly need you to remind me."
He cursed his ill choice of words. "Georgiana, you've twisted my words. I'm begging your pardon
for ruthlessly losing my head and dishonoring you."
Mute, she stared at him so long, he thought she might turn to stone.
He knew it was a monumentally bad idea, but he couldn't bear to watch her another moment. With a rush, he gathered her stiff fingers in his hands. "It was wrong of me to press my attentions on you. You ran away before I could apologize."
"I think I've had about as many apologies as I can stand, actually."
The sound of a goshan hawk keened in the distance. There was such sadness in her expression.
He didn't care anymore about propriety, about being a gentleman. Her slender sweeping brows framed glittering hurt eyes and nothing could have
kept him from kissing her again. He refused to look deeper than the overwhelming desire to comfort her.
He dipped down and captured her lips with his own. And for the first time in his life he unleashed the raw passion he had refused to acknowledge ... the emotions that lay deep within the recesses of his being.
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