Shakespeare in Regency England.
As a child, I had a book of the stories of Shakespeare’s plays that was beautifully illustrated with ruddy-faced characters that made all of the character seem like tavern frequenters. However the first performances that I saw were elegant, amazing films, such as Zeffirelli’s take on Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew. And a performance of Henry IV, part 1 on the beach at Lake Tahoe was a highlight of one childhood summer. But it wasn’t until junior high when we read A Midsummer’s Night Dream and went to see it performed that I saw on stage anything similar to those illustrations.
Shakespeare was widely performed in the Regency era. Throughout his plays, whether it is Viola dressing as a man in Twelfth Night or Petruchio in his horrible clothes in Taming of the Shrew, characters transgress social codes until the end of the play when social order is almost always restored. Our popular perception of Regency England is a time when certain social codes were rigidly enforced, at least among a certain segment of society. Putting these two together lends itself to interesting stories, and we often see themes and plots from Shakespeare reappear in Regency romance.
As a Regency romance lover you’ve seen it more than a dozen times: Shakespeare used to make characters fall in love or seem erudite. You’ve seen plots borrowed and reshaped to fit Regency strictures and culture. This is my version. Woo’d in Haste and Wed at Leisure are retellings of two sides of the same Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew. For those of you who haven’t read the play (or seen the modern adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You) the basic premise is that Katharina (Kate) is considered a shrew. She has tantrums and refuses to marry. At the same time, her father will not allow her younger sister (Bianca) to marry until Katharina does. In my version, there is one important switch. It’s Kate who imposes this decree.
What’s your favorite Regency romance that either updates a Shakespeare play or trades heavily on his dialogue?
Woo’d in Haste & Wed at Leisure
Taming Series Books One and Two
By: Sabrina Darby
Woo’d in Haste- Releasing May 13th, 2014
Miss Bianca Mansfield is ready for her debut. If only her older sister didn't insist on marrying first. She's doomed to wait to find love. Until she meets … him. For Lucian Dorlingsley, Viscount Asquith, recently returned from an extended tour abroad, it is love at first sight. He's determined to meet Bianca, even if it means masquerading as a tutor to her young half-brother. Soon Bianca is torn between love and duty and about to make a desperate decision. Can Lucian calm her fury over his betrayal when he reveals that he's not nearly as improper a match as he seems? And will they ever be able to find a match for her older sister to turn this masquerade into wedded bliss?
Wed at Leisure- Releasing May 27th, 2014
The stunning follow-up to Darby's Woo'd in Haste.
In all of Sussex—scratch that—in all of England, there is no one prettier than Kate Mansfield, and Peter Colburn, heir to the Duke of Orland, has known that since the age of 15. But since her vivacious nature comes with a temper to match, Peter has always masked his hunger for her behind ruthless teasing. As far as Kate is concerned, there is no one as annoying or as incredibly handsome as Peter. So when he surprises her with a sudden and romantic courtship, Kate is sure this must be his idea of a sick joke.
After all, he's the one man who knows how flawed she really is. And the only man to whom she has ever been so attracted. It's only after she rejects him that she realizes he might actually have been serious. And she just might be regretting her hasty decision. As Kate's determination wars with her traitorous heart, it may be too late. Now she's putting everything, including her reputation, on the line to give this accidental tragedy a happy ending.
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Sabrina Darby has been reading romance since the age of seven and learned her best vocabulary (dulcet, diaphanous, and turgid) from them. Her debut book with Avon Red, On These Silken Sheets, was a Favourite Erotic Romance finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Awards and a Best First Book finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards. Her new Regency novella, The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe, released July 31st from Avon Impulse and her first contemporary romance, Entry-Level Mistress, released February 2013.