Explore This! Regency London by Susanna Ives + Giveaway

Filed in Blogoversary , Explore This , Giveaways , Susanna Ives , The HEA Lover Posted on January 17, 2011 @ 11:00 am 35 comments

As you can see we, the Book Lovers, are still on ‘vacations’. Today’s Author takeover will be performed by Author Susanna Ives, who will take us on a tour to Regency London! If you haven’t read Rakes & Radishes yet, I hope this post will be enough of a tease to win you over *g*. Stay tuned and you can be entered to win a copy of Rakes & Radishes!

Thank you Book Lovers Inc. for letting me participate in your Blogoversary
A few months ago, Caroline wrote me with the idea of writing a blog post about London as seen through the eyes of my heroine, Henrietta, in Rakes and Radishes. However, I’ve been so immersed in a Victorian project, that I’m afraid I’ve lost Henrietta’s voice.
So, I’ve combed the pages of Rakes and Radishes looking for London passages. Below, I have taken some quotes from my book describing settings and put them beside an image of the actual place. One of the reasons I love to read and write historical fiction is to get immersed in another time. I want to “feel” how a character moved around in her space, what she saw as she walked down the street or visited the theater. I dug through internet archives looking for images of London in the early 1800s when writing Rakes and Radishes.
So, jump on the Regency cyber tour bus and let’s go…

Hyde Park

A great deal of the book takes place in Hyde Park. Most of the social activity in Hyde Park happened during the fashionable hour(s). If you look at the Ackerman’s fashion prints you find the Promenade gowns that I imagined fashionable ladies wore when strolling about Rotten Row. (See Nancy Mayer’s Regency Researcher website that I designed and maintain. If you see Related Links on the right, you will see the Ackermann’s fashion prints broken out by years.)

The carriage weaved through two enormous squares of connected white-columned homes, one looking just like the next, and then a large expanse of green opened before them, as if London came to an abrupt end.
“Hyde Park,” Kesseley said.
The Hyde Park! Where the most fashionable people in the world paraded! Henrietta strained in her seat, looking between the trees to see the riders along the famed Rotten Row. Could one of them be Edward? The carriage rode along the edge of the park, the boughs of oak trees arching over them. On their left she saw grand white houses that resembled decorated Queen cakes with curving bay windows and terraces.
It certainly wasn’t fashionable hour. The park was almost empty but for the people in dark, worn clothes, eyes averted, quietly hurrying to other destinations. She pulled Samuel onto the path, and he actually started to trot beside her, like a good hound.
This was much better, almost enjoyable, as the cool wet, morning breeze blew under her bonnet, tingling her cheeks. For a moment, the sun popped out from between dense clouds and sparkled through the tree leaves. Henrietta’s heart lightened.
A rather proper elderly man with a pearl-handled cane passed her. Henrietta smiled. He only scowled.
What? She looked down. Samuel was hunched, defecating on the soft sable sand. Samuel!

This is the outside of the park, but I think the above image is very evocative of the times.


Thoughts in this vein kept him occupied all the way down St. James to the great white bay window of Boodle’s.
The door swung open, and two fashionably dressed bucks leaped onto the pavement, each holding ducks, their faces alight with secretive mischievousness. Tucking the ducks under their coats, they ran down the street on a seemingly urgent mission. Kesseley watched them leave, then stepped inside.
The porter leaped from around his desk and grabbed Kesseley’s arm. “Deliveries are made in the back!” He spun Kesseley around to the door.

Kesseley’s London house on Curzon Street.

The carriage rode along the edge of the park, the boughs of oak trees arching over them. On their left she saw grand white houses that resembled decorated Queen cakes with curving bay windows and terraces.
Oh Lud, was one of these Kesseley’s?
But the carriage took a swift turn away from the park and into a grid of row houses, coming to a stop before a plain brown brick dwelling with a wrought-iron gate.
Henrietta sat still as Kesseley and his mother gathered their persons. Surely this couldn’t be their London home?
“We’re here,” he said.
Think of something nice! “It looks so — comfortable.”

Thomas Shepherd’s watercolor of Curzon Street

Covent Garden

The balconies inside the theatre were stacked so high it was dizzying. Even at the tiptop, slammed against the stunning oval ceiling, people sat peering over the rail. Using the constant of gravity, Henrietta tried to calculate how long it would take a person falling from that height to hit the gallery. Approximately 1.5 seconds, she decided.

Apsley House

I spent a pleasureable afternoon at the Apsley House and used its ballroom for inspiration.

Kesseley believed that Lady Huntly had managed to squeeze the entirety of fashionable London into their ballroom. Golden fires roared in four fireplaces and hundreds of candles hung in three expansive chandeliers. Their light caught in the mirrors running along the walls, reflected back, multiplied. The place was brighter than heaven and hotter than hell. Beneath his coat, sticky sweat soaked his shirt.


They drove around the fountain and then turned into a dark, narrow lane. Kesseley pointed to a flat, unremarkable building. “You should know this place.”
Henrietta shook her head.
“It’s Almack’s.” He laughed. “I thought all ladies knew Almack’s.”
This squat building was heaven? She had expected angels, pearly gates and St. Peter standing at the door with a guest list. It looked rather pedestrian.

Argyll Rooms

You can find great descriptions of the Argyll Rooms in the Survey of London found on the British History Online site. I believe the image below depicts a ball thrown by the notorious courtesan Harriette Wilson. She and her sister are on the right.

Royal Greenwich Observatory

I did all kinds of research on telescopes and the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

Kesseley arrived at the Royal Greenwich Observatory as the last light of the sinking sun lit the road. The silhouette of the old observatory rose above the treetops. From the high perch, Kesseley could see the Thames snaking to London, where the lights of the city blurred in the haze of coal. But up here the air was clean and crisp, fragrant with the sweet scent of flowering trees.

Green Man Inn, Blackheath

A footman in green livery ran out from The Green Man Inn and opened the hackney door. Henrietta latched on to his hand and stepped down, feeling her heart slow. She had made it to safety. The rain was coming down harder, and she shouted above its roar, asking the hackney driver to wait.

You can learn more about RAKES AND RADISHES by visiting my website www.susannaives.com or buy it at Carina Press.

Happy reading everyone!
Have you ever come across any of those places in a book? 
What do you associate with London?The new hip one or the old and royal one you know from these novels?


Susanna if offering an e-book copy of Rakes & Radishes to 1 lucky commenter

You’re also getting an extra entry for the main giveaway if you entered our Big Blogoversary Giveaway here.

All you have to do is answer a/the question(s) or leave a meaningful comment about the post.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please leave us a way to contact you.
(Email in blogger profile or twitter name – no way to contact you – no entry).
This giveaway is open worldwide!
Giveaway ends on Friday February 4th and we will announce the winner on Sunday.
Bonne Chance!

About Susi

Susi is a geeky vegetarian from Gemany. She just finished university and now works as a civil engineer in steel construction. Besides her reading addiction she also knits like a maniac while listening to audiobooks. Susi also blogs at the Secret HEA Society.

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  • stilettostorytime January 17, 2011 at 11:10 am

    London for me will always be that of Jane Austen's world. It's the period and style I abide in most of the time. Many of these locations are prevalent as well as Bath and other locations in the countryside. Thanks for the giveaway and in-debt look, I have not read this one yet.

    stilettostorytime at gmail dot com

  • Virginia C January 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Hello, Susanna! "Rakes & Radishes" sounds terrific! I enjoyed visiting your website. Butter beans, baby–now you're talkin' my language : )

    Hyde Park, Almack's, and Covent Garden are all the stuff of legend in the world of historical romance. I have innumerable works in which each of those landmarks plays a vital part in the story line.

    Britannia Rules! Throughout the centuries, the small country of England has extended its mighty royal reach around the globe. I really consider England to be a super-absorbent sponge, soaking up cultures and changing societies in its wake. Is there a part of the world that hasn’t been influenced by England and its royals in some way? Risky and risque are some of the more enjoyable elements of Regency Romance. A sharper air of mischief, perhaps due to a spoiled social set seeking to relieve boredom, is part of the fun. Mystery, murder, and mayhem all add to the mix. However, it is the contrast between “the upstairs and downstairs” which gives a deeper, meatier flavor to certain Regencies. The Ton would not have their drawing rooms and other comforts without the working class, whose labor allows for the luxury of others. Some of the most interesting and satisfying Regency relationships are those between “Societal and Servant”. When there is affection and codependency, whether obvious or subtle, the relationship becomes even more enjoyable. The London of modern day would not be the same without the old and royal one of the past!

    US Resident, GFC Follower, Subscriber

    Entered Big Blogoversary Giveaway

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  • GeishasMom73 January 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Great post! I have been lucky enough to visit London 5 times in the last 5 years. No matter how hip and cosmopolitan London is, you cannot get away from the history. Museums & tours of Royal residences are a must whenever I visit. The most beautiful part of England for me was Bath. I now know why Jane Austen wrote it into all of her books. I've never seen such a beautiful place.

    I love books that are set in the past. Your book sounds awesome!

    GeishasMom73 on twitter

  • Jackie January 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Susanna. This post is fantastic! I've been watching The Seven Ages of Britain recently and David Dimbleby does a marvelous job of highlighting England from the 1100's on, so you get to see the art and architecture, mostly in and around London. It makes me want to visit! But your pictures are great in showing us the grand style that we all associate with Regency and Victorian England. I will have to step up my game with future posts 😉 Thank you for the vacation!

  • Barbara E. January 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I enjoyed the post and loved all the passages from the book. I've never had a chance to visit London, though it is a dream trip that I hope to go on some time. I associate London with the old and royal one that I've read about for so long, and I'd love to see all the historical sights.


  • Elizabeth January 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Love all of the pictures. I live in England but have never been to London it's on my to do list!


  • vickyvak January 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I LOVE London! Both the new and the old one! I have never been there but I really want to!


  • winnie January 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Really found the post interesting as I have never visited London before (maybe one day…). It was great how the passages from the book were accompanied with some visuals 🙂


  • Rachel January 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Wow! great pictures 🙂
    I've been to London before, but I have never 'sight see'd'

  • Susanna Ives January 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Hi everyone,
    Sorry, I’m a bit late to the show. My friend talked me into visiting a Korean spa and sauna this morning. It was amazing.

    @Stilettostorytime and GeishasMom73 — I love Bath too. I wrote a long blog post with all sorts of pictures from my last visit to Bath. For Regency fans, the blog includes Nash’s rules of behavior when attending the Assembly Rooms , as well as pictures from the costume museum.

    @Virginia C. —
    I have this fabulous research book titled “The Complete Servant, Regency Life below Stairs” by Samuel and Sarah Adams. Have you heard of it?
    Your comments reminded me of Gosford Park, although not a Regency era movie.

    @Dimbley — I should totally watch that! In my last trip, I went to the Museum of London. It was interesting to see parts of the old London Walls still intact near the museum. I loved the museum’s book on London. It’s fabulous. I paid a small fortune for it and lugged it all the way home. Also, visiting John Wesley’s home had to be a highlight — a Georgian house with period furniture!

    @Barbara, Rachel, and Winnie –- Definitely a place to go if you read British historical novels. It’s great to “live” the books.

  • Laura Valeri January 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Nice pics! Really puts the novel in its setting. I loved R&R. This will be a lovely gift for the lucky recipient.

  • Susanna Ives January 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Ahh. Thanks Laura!

  • LSUReader January 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed learning more about these places. Several–Hyde Park, Covent Garden, Almack's–are featured in lots of books I've read.

  • Susanna ives January 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Oops. I meant the @dimbley reply for Jackie. I'm easily confused…

  • Susanna ives January 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks LSUreader!

  • Cindy L January 17, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Hyde Park, Almack's and Covent Garden are all places that have been referenced in some of the Historicals that I've read.

    Even though I've traveled to London, I still like to think of it as it was in the Victorian Era.


  • Tia Nevitt January 17, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I've already read RAKES AND RADISHES so don't enter me in the giveaway. I just wanted to tell everyone that I loved this novel–it made me cry!

  • Liz Fichera January 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Lovely post and an amazing book. I devoured Rakes & Radishes in a weekend. Could not put it down.

  • Susanna ives January 17, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks Liz and Tia!

    If Regency isn't your fix, let me recommend the smart and witty novella Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt. It's a fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I adored this book and stayed up into the early hours of the morning reading it. A real treat.

    Liz wrote a stunning Native American love story titled Captive Spirit. I cried and cried over this story. And Liz's writing craft is amazing. I'm jealous of her.

  • Danielle Gorman January 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I love reading about this time period. I will say that it is my favorite. Whenever I think or read about it I picture movies like Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess, and Young Victoria. I would love to travel to England and visit all of the places that I read about.
    I would love to read this book. I have had it on my wishlist for sometime now. It looks so good.


  • Susanna Ives January 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    @ Danielle — I hope you get a chance to go. Years ago, I wrote this terrible novel that I love with all my heart.I made a point to walk through Mayfair, trying to see the streets and buildings as my heroine would see them. I love atmospheric historicals that immerse me in the setting. My writing mentor, who writes historical mysteries, does an amazing job capturing the essence of a place in time.

  • Tore January 18, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I always thought London was an interesting place to be. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

  • CiNdY January 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Awesome pictures!! London seems wonderful!! 😀

  • Kaetrin January 19, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Love the pictures! I'm planning a big trip to the UK one of these days and I'm looking forward to soaking up all the history. I want to walk along the Serpentine and see Rotten Row and Grosvenor Square and all those cool places I keep reading about in historical novels. I'm definitely going to Chatsworth too!

  • Meredith January 20, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Beautiful pictures! Thanks for the tour! While I do like to imagine my own pictures when reading a story, I love looking at pictures and art from other places!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  • Sarah January 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I still associate more of the old, royal sites when I think of London – Big Ben, the castles, London Tower, etc.

    smaccall @ comcast.net

  • Blodeuedd January 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Not entering since me and e-books, no.

    Anyway, wow, I wanna live in Apsley House!
    ALmacks, cool to see it since I always come across in it


  • Chrizette January 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I have never been to London (or Europe for that matter), so London to me is the London of Lords and Ladies.

    baychriz at gmail dot com

  • Darlyn January 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Never been there of any places mentioned above, but whenever I read Jane Austen, I'd loved to at least be there once in my life.

    darlyn225 at gmail dot com

  • Sheree January 23, 2011 at 2:47 am

    I visited England (and London) a long time ago. The place I like best was Stonehenge so perhaps I should read more Medievals?


  • natalie23 January 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Ive come across most of those places in books. For some reason I associate cobblestones with London. I know they exist in other places but I always think of cobblestones when I think of london. Also Big Ben and those posh houses the rich always stayed in. I much prefer the old London.


  • mbreakfield January 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    I love regency romances, so I associate the regency landmarks with London. I started by reading Heyer, and I've always wanted to go to Almack's.

  • Kelly M January 30, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Hi Susanna, You are a new author to me.. But I am looking forward to learning more about you and your books..
    As far as your question. When I think of London I think of OLD… just everything old…

    Kelly M

  • Aleetha February 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Lovely pictures.
    I have never been to London. I know nothing about its architecture.
    But from the pictures, I think it's lovely.

    aleetha.ally at gmail dot com

  • lindseye February 4, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Loved London when I spent a semester abroad there in college. Went to Bath which is mentioned in many of the Regency novels. Would have been fun to see Covent Gardens in its heyday.

    linze_e at hotmail.com

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