Highlighting Historical Romance with Shannon Donnelly’s research into the Royal Navy and its warfare:
Even though I’ve been writing Regency romances for a number of years, it seems there’s always something to research. Davinia’s Duke, a Regency novella, proved no different, and gave me three research rabbit holes to dive into.
While the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 confirmed Britain’s naval supremacy over France, other battles continued at sea during the Napoleonic wars. In Davinia’s Duke, I needed a battle that might have left my heroine a widow, and it had to be after Trafalgar. That gave me the HMS Monarch, which saw action in September of 1806 when a French squadron with five frigates and two corvettes was intercepted by six British ships. Under the command of Commodore Sir Samuel Hood, the British gave chase. Outrun and outclassed, the French fought hard, inflicting damage on the leading British ships and wounding Commodore Hood. Eventually, the French surrendered, but this seemed a possible battle in which Davinia might have lost her sailor husband.
The next bit was to figure out the weather—I needed house-bound guests. The winter of 1808, and the month of February, there were reports of bad northwesterly storms affecting the east of England. Even worse winters would hit in 1811, when the Thames froze. Overall, the 1800s saw some really rough weather, but for this story I also wanted a full moon, which, in the age of horses and no streetlights in the country, was vital to travel. The full moon fell on February 12 in 1808, and while technically the moon is only full for an instant, it appears bright for about three days before and after that moment, so it would provide for good travel on Valentine’s.
As to Valentine’s Day celebrations, which appears in the story, I had to make certain about the custom of giving cards. The holiday itself traces back to Ancient Rome and just kept on through the ages. The custom of giving cards came about in the 1700s, with most cards being handmade. A few pre-printed cards appear in the late 1700s. The oldest surviving example in the UK dates from 1797, when Catherine Mossday sent a card to a Mr. Brown of London. It is decorated with flowers and images of Cupid, with a verse printed around the border reading: Since on this ever Happy day, All Nature’s full of Love and Play. Yet harmless still if my design, ‘Tis but to be your Valentine.
Now for my next Regency, it’s a deep dive into Paris of 1815 and Napoleon’s Hundred Days!
About the Book: Davina’s Duke
A too-perfect duke, a very imperfect lady…is it the perfect match or a perfect disaster?
A duke in need of a wife…
The dukes of Everley always marry at thirty–but the current duke has left choosing a bride far too late. Arriving at a country house party for a Valentine’s ball, he expects to find one suitable young lady to be the next duchess. He doesn’t expect to find the woman he once kissed in a garden—the woman who was the bane of his life for a season and who might be the only woman who can save him from becoming a far too proper duke.
A lady in need of her own life…
Davinia has never forgotten that one kiss in a garden—but she has also been married and widowed and intends to keep her niece from making the mistake she nearly made when she allowed the Duke of Everley to kiss her. But when the house becomes snow-bound, Davinia begins to realize there is a warm-hearted man under the weight of a title. Is it too late to correct past mistakes and rekindle a love she thought lost?
About the Author
Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a nomination for Romance Writer’s of America’s RITA award, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”
In addition to her Regency romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire. Her Regency romance, Lady Chance, was awarded the Indie BRAG Gold Medallion.
She lives in New Mexico where she is a licensed EMT-I and a volunteer Firefighter in what is one of the few “frontier” areas left in the US (yes, New Mexico is a state), with room for horses, dogs, chickens and sustainable building. Shannon can be found online at