Romance Across Social Classes By Theresa Romain
Author of Lady Rogue
Book 3 in the Royal Rewards Series
Fans of Pride and Prejudice are familiar with the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, she the impoverished gentleman’s daughter and he the wealthy landowner who saves her family from social and financial ruin. We also remember the protests of his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who says the family name will be “polluted” by her nephew’s unequal match.
Lady Catherine’s protest seems unjust to modern readers—and likely would have to all but the highest sticklers upon its publication in 1813. By birth, Elizabeth’s station is equal to Darcy’s, though it’s true (as he says in his first and extremely unsuccessful proposal) that the advantage of the match is all on her side. She didn’t have important connections or even much of a dowry. Fortunately, her “fine eyes” and personality get through Darcy’s thick skull, and by the end of the story the two make a love match.
Jane Austen wrote the first draft of Pride and Prejudice in 1796 and 1797, at a time when English attitudes toward marriage were changing. Historically, marriage had been for cementing of alliances and fortunes, but with the Age of Enlightenment in the 1700s, attitudes began to shift. Personal happiness was worth considering too, and love was a valid reason to wed.
That didn’t mean the historic viewpoint was gone, though, and in Lady Catherine, we see the conflict between the marriage-for-alliance and marriage-for-love ideals. Lady Catherine’s way is the old way, and Elizabeth and Darcy’s is the new…sort of. Class distinctions remained strong in the England of the 1810s. Though love was a valid consideration in choosing a spouse, young men and women were still expected to look within their own social class.
Money has often been the great equalizer in the United States of America, but in Regency England, it couldn’t quite compete with social class. True, a young couple would be unwise to marry without a sufficient income, but if a man married a woman with only fortune to recommend her, the couple would be looked down upon by their so-called social betters. Since children of a union took the rank of their father, a gentlewoman would almost never consider looking for a spouse in a social class below her own.
Of course, where did social class originate from in the first place? Money. The families that historically owned land gained wealth because of it, which brought them social advantages. But with the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in the early- to mid-1800s, a middle class independent of land and farming began to grow. For the first time, young people could make a decent living independent of the social classes that had tied their parents’ hands. More and more over time, this new middle class became mobile, self-reliant, and eager to wed for love, trusting that personal choices and efforts would bring them romance and happiness.
About LADY ROGUE
HER SECRET SCANDAL
As far as London’s high society knows, Lady Isabel Morrow is above reproach. But the truth is rarely so simple. Though the young widow’s passionate fling with dashing Bow Street Runner Callum Jenks ended amicably months ago, she now needs his expertise. It seems Isabel’s late husband, a respected art dealer, was peddling forgeries. If those misdeeds are revealed, the marriage prospects of his younger cousin— now Isabel’s ward—will be ruined.
For the second time, Isabel has upended Callum’s well-ordered world. He’s resolved to help her secretly replace the forgeries with the real masterpieces, as a . . . friend. A proper sort of friend doesn’t burn with desire, of course, or steal kisses on twilight errands. Or draw a willing lady into one passionate encounter after another. Isabel’s scheme is testing Callum’s heart as well as his loyalties. But with pleasure so intoxicating, the real crime would be to resist . . .
About The Author
Theresa Romain is the bestselling author of historical romances, including the Matchmaker trilogy, the Holiday Pleasures series, the Royal Rewards series, and the Romance of the Turf trilogy. Praised as “one of the rising stars of Regency historical romance” (Booklist), she has received starred reviews from Booklist and was a 2016 RITA® finalist. A member of Romance Writers of America® and its Regency specialty chapter The Beau Monde, Theresa is hard at work on her next novel from her home in the Midwest. To keep up with all her book-release news, please visit her online at theresaromain.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter, or on the social media platforms below.