Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why I Love the Victorian Era by Lilly Gayle!


I'm so lucky to welcome a wonderful writer, Lilly Gayle, to visit my blog and share with us some of her insights into the very interesting Victorian Era!
When I think of my Grandma who would have been born in the early 1900's and the stories she told me about their life in those days, I have to admit that I'm glad that my time is here and now. I couldn't imagine living without all the amenities we are surrounded by today....
....I love my computer!!


Most historical romances are set in Regency England or they are Westerns, Civil War novels, or Medieval romances.  I love all of these genres but I also love the Victorian Era. 
  The Victorian Era encompasses the time of Queen Victoria’s reign from June 1837 until her death in January 1901.  It was a time of peace, prosperity, and refined sensibilities. During those years, Americans living in larger cities, New England, and the Deep South, followed the fashion, fads, and lifestyles popular in British cultural and so this time frame is also called the Victorian Era in America.
It was a time of time of romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and the arts. It was also a time of moral values and sexual restraint—a time when women began to question and later protest their roles as nothing more than mothers, wives, and housekeepers. It was an era of reform and enlightenment. It was also an era of economic, colonial, and industrial expansion.  It was an era of liberal views shifting in the direction of political and industrial reform. And a time when women protested for the right to vote.  It was a great era in which to set a historical manuscript.

Entertainment was quite diverse during the Victorian era. Besides the theater, balls and soirees, freak show exhibits became popular during this time. These “shows” boasted a variety of “freaks” from famous conjoined twins Eng an Chang to Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man
Classic literature was popular but so were Dime and Gothic novels.
Dime novels typically idealized law enforcement, outlaws, or both. Gothic novels were a genre of literature that combined horror and romance. Since women were known to write and publish Gothic novels using male pseudonyms, it has become a popular theme in many romance novels set in both the Regency and Victorian Eras.
 Tuberculosis –then called consumption—was the main cause of death in the latter 19th century. Because of this dreaded disease, sanatoriums were created where sufferers were often sent to recuperate or die. Most died. Before Luis Pasteur suggested germs as the cause of disease and microscopes proved him right, most people believed bad odors--called miasmas--caused sickness.
Both London and New York smelled horribly in the early years of the Victorian Era as sewage was dumped directly into the streets. Luckily, the flushing toilet and advent of modern sewers came about during the Victorian Era.
The Victorian era was a time of discovery, when germs and cleanliness were recognized as contributing factors in survival rates after surgery. Other than alcohol and opiates such as laudanum, painkillers had not been invented. Chloroform was the only known anesthesia, which didn’t come into effect until the middle of the 19th century. It often caused paralysis or death, so many surgeries were carried out with no anesthesia at all. Operations were painful procedures that more closely resembled torture.
The Victorian Era was also a time of serial killers and advancements in detective work.  In 1882, fingerprinting for identification was first used in New Mexico. In 1883, author Samuel Clemmons aka Mark Twain used fingerprinting in his book Life on the Mississippi to identify the killer. In a later book, Puddin’ Head Wilson, there’s an entire courtroom scene using fingerprint identification.
In London, Jack the Ripper gained notoriety during the Victorian Era. In America, Lizzy Borden grabbed headlines. So did a lesser known sadistic killer, the Chicago Butcher—Adolph Luetert.

In 1897,  Luetgert, Chicago’s main sausage manufacturer, was known for his dalliances with other women. The rich entrepreneur had dozens of mistress, but when his wife protested his infidelities, Luetgert stabbed her, boiled her, and put her remains through the sausage grinder. Coincidentally, the electric chair was also introduced during this time in history.

As photography became more common place, so did a macabre interest in photographing the dead. For a vast number of “Victorians” death photos were the only time a loved one was photographed.

Oddly enough, my mother has a death photo of an ancestor, Herbert Newton, in her collection of family photographs. She shared it with me and now, I’m sharing it here

Creepy. Huh?

Swimming became popular during this time period and the bathing suit became a noted fashion. Although, Victorian swimwear was quite modest and those daring enough to swim in the ocean did so by hanging on to a rope.

Throughout most of the civilized world, this was a time of industrialism and creativity—a time of inventions such as: the automobile, telephone, radio, toilet, camera, stamp, train, vacuum cleaner, and sewing machine.  Steam was used to power factory machinery, ships and trains. And it has since inspired a whole new genre of fiction, dubbed: Steam Punk.

Although I have yet to pen a Steam Punk novel, I have two historical romances set in the Victorian Era.

Here are the Blurbs and buy links for both:

Wholesale Husband- A June 2011 Release from The Wild Rose Press~
She needs his name. He needs her money. But can a rich New York socialite and a poor Irish immigrant find true love in the gilded age?

Betrayed by her fiancĂ© and heart sick over her father’s death, Clarissa Burdick is further devastated when she learns she can’t inherit her father’s company—the company she loves—until she’s twenty-five or married. And Clarissa is neither. So she sets out to find a husband strong enough to protect her from her uncle’s thugs, too uneducated to run the company himself, and poor enough to marry a woman in name only.  But Irish immigrant Devin Flannery is smarter than he seems and more educated than Clarissa expects.  Her Wholesale Husband soon proves a greater risk to her heart than her company.
Wholesale Husband is available from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon


Slightly Tarnished blurb:

Victorian romance laced with danger.

When a brooding English earl with a SLIGHTLY TARNISHED reputation marries his dead wife’s American cousin to save her from her uncle’s vengeful schemes, the sea captain’s daughter with a taste for adventure sparks desires he thought long dead.

Nicole Keller has always been headstrong and independent, but after a failed business venture and a sinking ship take her father, her home, and her childhood sweetheart, Nikki must support herself and her mother. But moving to England and marrying Chadwick Masters, Earl of Gilchrest isn’t what she has in mind. And falling in love with the mysterious earl could endanger both their lives.

Slightly Tarnished available from: : Amazon and The Wild Rose Press

So, now you know why I love the Victorian Era. What’s your favorite romance genre?
The Shower of Books Giveaway Hop

For this Shower of Books Giveaway I will be happy to present the lucky winner with a free e-book of His Devious Angel - my newest release on the Angels with Attitude Series. All you need to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address. Also, Lilly has graciously agreed to presenting two lucky commenters with a copy of each of her books.

I'll be adding your names to my newsletter list, so I hope you won't mind getting a periodic letter from me telling of new releases and special news! 



  1. Thanks for having me on your blog Mimmi and for allowing me to share my love of the Victorian Era.

  2. As a student of British Modern History and an aspiring writer I love the Victorian era. Not too keen on the romance novel though, although willing to have my mind changed. Great article.

  3. Romance novels aren't everyone's cup of tea, but take out the sex scenes and most romance novels are still great books. I like to tell my husband, every story is better if a little romance is added. He loves the movie True Lies with Arnold Swartzeneger. He hates it when I tell him it's a romantic comedy/suspense. :-) If you take out the love story, it's just shooting and blowing stuff up.

  4. Holy cow! That is a fascinating history lesson! The death photo creeps me out something fierce, though. Eck.

  5. I agree. Everything is better with a splash of romance. You have to pluck some heartstrings along with blowing things up.

    I'd have to say that I enjoy the Victorian era, but I prefer contemporary romances. I guess I can relate to the the modern-day heartache more. :-)

    Fascinating post, Lilly Gayle.

  6. Great post, Lilly. I feel so smart now that I've had my daily dose of cool information. You are so right, a little or a lot of romance makes any story better.

  7. Claire, I love a good modern-day romance too. Again, just throw in a splash of romance and I'm a horror fan too. Love Dean Koontz. He knows how to scare the crap out of you and tug at your heart strings. Vonnie, I love useless information, don't you.
    Andris, you didn't like my mom's picture of cousin Irby? My mom corrected me. My dead ancestor was Irby Newton, not Herbert Newton. Poor Irby. He had a horrible name, he died young, and his family laid him out in the front yard like they were having a yard sale or something.

  8. Hi Lilly! As you know, I'm a big fan of Wholesale Husband, and the era had a lot to do with it. I suspect, with the immense popularity of Downtown Abbey - that we will see many more books set in the Victorian era now.

    As for me - plumbing has a lot to do with preference for eras. LOL.

  9. I love the Victorian era! Most of my romance books are set during the American Civil War, but that war happened smack in the middle of the Victorian era. I also have a January release set just after the war.

    And I really enjoyed reading 'Wholesale Husband'!

  10. Awww. Thanks Lynne and Susan. I really have to find time to read more. I still haven't read Lynne's One For the Road yet. It's been sitting on my Nook for months. And now, it sounds like I'm going to want to check out your books, Susan. I love Civil War and post Civil war romances.

  11. I also love the Victorian era and fondly remember writing a senior term paper on Anne, Queen of Scots!
    I have read and reviewed Lilly's books and couldn't put the books down. My reviews of her books are on Amazon. What an entertaining writer she is! I also love reading her blog and posts on other's blogs, such as this one.
    Thanks Mimi and Lilly!

  12. Thank you!

  13. Thanks for the giveaway, I would love to win her book.
    magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

  14. This is a really awesome giveaway! I would love to win!

  15. Thank you!

    childrensbook13 at aol dot com

  16. Loved the stories and the pictures. Thanks for sharing them.
    Lmackesy @

  17. Hi Lilly, I totally agree. There is a huge difference between romance and explicit novels. I love the books that let the reader "see" story, and the hint of romance is nicer than details.
    Thank you,

  18. Thanks everyone for stopping by. I wish you all luck in the drawing. Jan, I don't write erotic, but there are one or two explicit love scenes in my books. Although, I just can't bring myself to use any of the "C" words or the "D" word when writing a sex scene.

  19. This sounds great thanks for the giveaway.

  20. Megan Real

    Megan dot Real at Yahoo dot Com

  21. Thankyou for the giveaway. Gale Nelson

  22. Thank you :)
    tamarsweeps at

  23. thanks for the giveaway : )

    ame1184 at gmail dot com

  24. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  25. Great giveaway! I agree with Lilly- True Lies is a fantastic example of a romantic thriller:)
    Thanks for the chance to win:)

    bchild5 at aol dot com

  26. I love historical romance, but almost all YA genres. Thanks for the giveaway!
    tressa dot sherman at hotmail dot com

  27. Thank you so much ladies for visiting and commenting on my blog and to Lilly for being such an interesting guest. I have put your names in a hat and the two picked out to win Lilly's books are Brendajean and Bridget. And rbooth43 has won my new release "His Devious Angel."
    Take care...
    Hugs Mimi

  28. Looking forward to reading His Devious Angel!
    Thanks, Mimi!