Love and Freedom

By Emma Barron, author of The Glass Orchid

The Glass OrchidI’m about to confess something precisely none of you will find shocking: I love historical romances. Put the women in flouncy layers of constricting undergarments and ornate gowns; dress the men in sexy breeches, boots and hats; throw in some carriages, crowded balls, intricately formal manners and witty banter, and I’m all over it. I’m especially drawn to anything Regency, and I always daydream about actually living during that time. I think about the obvious things, of course ⎯ the lack of electricity and modern conveniences like hot showers, cars, and computers. Could I live without my smartphone and pizza and the ready availability of ice cream? I wonder about the big issues and the little details of life back then, but there’s one thing that intrigues me the most: what was it like to be limited by such rigid societal rules and expectations?

Living in modern times, I have the freedom to choose most aspects of my life. I chose my career, where I wanted to live, and whether to get married. When I did marry, it was for love instead of reasons like property considerations or because I had no other way to support myself. What was it like to live in a time when people didn’t necessarily have those options?

My new book, The Glass Orchid, explores what happens at the intersection of love and the Regency’s strict social restraints. The heroine, Adele Beaumont, was orphaned at a young age and quickly learned how vulnerable she was as a woman with no family, money, or marriage prospects. Determined to take charge of her own fate, she decides to support herself in one of the only ways available to a woman of that time: become a courtesan to wealthy and powerful men. The hero, Rhys Camden, is discovering that the expectations for a young man just reaching adulthood can be as equally limiting as for the women of that era. Camden’s father amassed great wealth but is having difficulty reaching any sort of social respectability, and so he expects Camden to take over the family business, marry a woman from a titled family, and increase the family’s standing at any cost.

Throughout the story, Del and Camden’s deepening relationship forces them to confront increasingly difficult questions: What role does love have in the face of obligation? Is loneliness the cost of personal freedom? Does giving your heart to someone mean risking vulnerability and the loss of independence? Del grows to love Camden, but she’s terrified that marrying him means giving up her hard-won independence and becoming once again vulnerable to the whims of another person. Camden wants Del, but can he turn his back on his father⎯and the livelihood he controls⎯to marry the woman he loves?

I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about love and freedom as I wrote The Glass Orchid ⎯ I hope you enjoy reading it!