Highlighting Historical Romance: a word from Alanna Lucas
I love researching art and architecture for my stories, often spending far too much time gazing at pictures of castles and intricate gardens when I should be writing. Such was the case while writing Waltzing with the Earl. After several enjoyable hours researching estates, I came across Castle Ward and was fascinated by its dual architectural styles.
Located near the village of Strangford in Northern Ireland and overlooking Strangford Lough, Castle Ward and its gardens had been in the Ward family from the 16th century until it was presented to the National Trust in 1952.
The current structure, which dates from the 1760’s, was the inspiration for Lord Trevena’s estate, Longstone, in Waltzing with the Earl. The current structure owes its unique design and different style preferences to Lord Bangor and his wife, Lady Ann Bligh.
The entrance side of Castle Ward is in the classical Palladian style (first photo). Palladianism became
popular in the mid-17th c. The style was known for its simplicity and adhesion to classical architecture, which is evident in the façade with its ionic capitals, columns, and triangular pediment. The opposite side was designed in the Georgian gothic style (second picture). Pointed windows, battlements- parapets at the top of the wall, and carved spire’s complete the design aesthetic. Not only is the exterior divided in styles, but the interior reflects the dual design as well, divided straight down the center.
So enthralled with this concept, I had to bring this unique style choice into Longstone. There are even two libraries in my fictional estate, each exhibiting the tastes of the previous Earl of Longstone and his wife. I hope you enjoyed the historical tidbits that inspired Waltzing with the Earl.
A PROPHECY FORETOLD
Raised by her doting older brother, Isabel Albryght grew up cosseted and protected. She enjoyed her life in the country, her books, and her freedom. Then her brother married. Within months Isabel’s best friend married. It seemed it was time for Isabel to marry, too. Socially awkward and a bit too keen for most of the ton, Isabel proceeded to have the most horrible season on record…until she was approached by Tristram, the Earl of Longstone.
Two dances. That was all Tristram could offer anyone when considering his family curse, which had taken all he loved in the last ten years, so his promise to the beautiful Miss Albryght’s brother was simply that. The ton would soon see she was a desirable partner, her awkwardness would fade and other young swains would beat feet to her doorstep. But then he held her in his arms, and the delightful Isabel became his beating heart. Headstrong and full of passion, she believed she might waltz them away from Death. She alone could tempt him to try.
The temperature in the room rose by several degrees—it was positively sweltering. Isabel did not know how much longer she could tolerate standing in the midst of hell, surrounded by a mixture of unidentifiable odors and loud boisterous laughter. She thought her head would explode.
Closing her tired eyes, she brought her gloved hand to her temple. Isabel could feel her body sway, but was unable to stop the motion. She could not even gather her wits about her to stamp down, or even beg, the feelings to cooperate. Isabel could sense another mishap was forthcoming, which further added to her distress. And she had been doing so well.
A gentle hand came to her elbow. “Allow me to accompany you onto the balcony for some fresh air, Miss Albryght.” Lord Trevena’s voice broke through the haze. His tone was soft and full of concern.
Isabel opened her eyes; they felt thick and heavy, and still out of focus. Tristram somehow managed to maneuver her through the crush without bumping into anyone. The moment they reached the unoccupied balcony, the cool evening breeze cleared the haziness Isabel had been fighting in her head.
They strolled to the edge of the balcony, partly hidden within the shadows, and clear of any curious gossipmongers. The garden beyond was concealed in darkness, but the lingering scent of blooming roses wafted through the air. Tristram released his gentle hold on her arm. The absence of his hand made her heart lurch, wanting more.
Isabel turned to face him. Even in the dim light, his clear blue eyes sparkled like stars in the night. She struggled to find the words, but when they finally came, they would not stop.
“Thank you for coming to my aid. I am quite recovered now. The room was quite warm and the noise…”
“Isabel,” Tristram said in a deep husky tone. Her name on his lips sent a jolt of excitement through her body.
Taking a step closer, he brought his hand to her face, his gloved thumb dancing intimately across her cheek. Her heart pounded against her ribs, practically stealing her breath.
“Lord Trevena.” His name exited her lips in a breathy gasp.
He bent his head and whispered his name across her cheek. “Tristram.”
Isabel could not imagine anything more sensual than this moment. She lifted her chin, and their cheeks brushed. His lips were so close, but still too far away. His warm breath teased her senses. Closing her eyes, she waited for his kiss.
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Alanna Lucas is a historical romance author, who loves writing historical romance just as much as she loves reading them. When not daydreaming of her next hero and bygone eras, Alanna can be found reading, spending time with family, or plotting her next travel destination.