A Woman Needs to be Cautious – Bronwen Evans

9780553391176Lady Portia Flagstaff is my heroine in my latest Regency release, A TOUCH OF PASSION, book #3 in my USA Today bestselling Disgraced Lords series. She is a feminist. A woman ahead of her time, who understands that perhaps marriage is not an ideal institution, unless it’s to a man who will let her be true to herself.

Portia almost died at the age of sixteen and vowed to live her life to the full. She’s managed to set up a very successful cider business and she is very aware that she could lose it all when she marries. Her property becomes her husband’s property.

According to A. Woodley, Married women had no legal testamentary rights in relation to real estate. Any personal property of a woman, which she had before the marriage, or acquired after the marriage, became her husband’s absolutely, and as such, he had the right to leave it by will. Only with her husband’s permission could a wife make a will leaving personal property – even if it had been hers before her marriage. Moreover, his consent only applied to a particular will and this consent had to be strictly proved. His consent could be revoked even after her death. The only exception to this was her right to make a will leaving her ‘paraphernalia’ – clothing and personal ornaments.

For a woman used to making decisions, used to running her business, imagine having to hand it over to someone who could legally keep the profits and perhaps even leave you with nothing! Portia had to be sure the man she married understood she required an equal partnership, and then she had to trust he would not renege on said arrangement. Portia knew love was at the core of this trust. She would only marry a man who loved her before all else.

  1. Woodley also gave this example of what could happen to women. Before the 1884 Married Women’s Property Act, most women were not allowed to own houses or gardens. This was the fate of Dorothy Nevill (1826-1913), who was unfortunately typical of the period. Having been as she said, “compromised in a Hampshire summerhouse”, she was married off to a wealthy cousin, in whose 23-acre Hampshire garden she was able to pursue her horticultural interests. She built 13 greenhouses, corresponded with leading scientists, including Darwin, and amassed a vast and important collection of plants, rivaled only by Kew. When her husband died, however, he left his remaining money in trust to his children, and Nevill was obliged to sell her home, her garden and her collection.

Here’s taste of Portia’s interaction with Grayson Devlin, my hero, a man who is the very essence of conservatism.

“Ladies, I’ll drink more champagne too,” Portia decided. “I need to fortify myself before tomorrow’s heart declaration. Grayson has the power to destroy me if he doesn’t understand who I really am. Maybe I’ll learn that he can never love the woman I am.”

There was a sound at the door, and the woman all turned at once. “I’ve always known who you are, and I’ve always admired who you are, and I’ve always loved who you are. I was simply too scared to admit it. But I promise you I’ll spend the rest of my life making up for my cowardice.”

Portia forgot to breathe. Grayson stood in the doorway, his face twisted in pain.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you or made you doubt yourself. Any man would be privileged to call you his wife. I’m sorry for making you think for even one minute that I didn’t love everything about you.”

The other ladies made as if to rise, but Portia stayed them with her hand.

Portia’s heart slammed against her ribs. He looked so handsome, and a little bit lost. He was freshly shaved and dressed in her favorite jacket of his, the color a deep forest green that set off his hair. As he pulled at his cuffs, Portia saw that for once he was nervous and unsure of himself.

She wasn’t about to let him think she’d fall at his feet if he simply walked in and apologized. “We were going to test you tonight. We were going to send one of the grooms to the village to tell the men I’d fallen down the stairs and was badly injured.”

His gaze hardened. “I won’t run again. I give you my word.”

Portia nodded, her fists clenched at her sides. “I’ve loved you for years. I’ve waited for you to see me since I was sixteen. You can wait until at least tomorrow to have this conversation. The ladies and I have a night of feminine amusements planned.”

His jaw tightened, but he nodded. “As you wish. How about a ride over the estate in the morning?”

“That would be acceptable,” she answered, her body starting to shake. She saw his shoulders relax, and he let out the breath he had been holding.

“Thank you.” With that he bowed and strode from the room.

61sl7ZowuxL._SL300_It takes a lot to trust a man with your heart let alone your livelihood and business. Grayson is a fabulous hero. Read A Touch of Passion and see what he did to earn Portia’s trust and heart.

What are some ways a woman in the Regency era could employ to save some money for her retirement or future, should her husband leave her with nothing? I’ll draw one winner from the comments who will win an Audible File of INVITATION TO PASSION, RomCon Readers Crown WINNER Best Historical 2015.

Bron’s Bio:

Bron_300x421-2USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dog Brandy.

Bronwen loves hearing from avid romance readers at Bronwen@bronwenevans.com
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6 thoughts on “A Woman Needs to be Cautious – Bronwen Evans

  1. Enjoyed the post, Bron. Disturbing as these stories are, it’s alarming to think the majority of women today labor under even more severe laws.

  2. Being a governess, having a family member make a great marriage contract, inherit money from a relative, being a shopkeeper or courtesan. That was all I could think of…..

  3. She could sew an extra lining in her coat/cape. In it she could start squirreling away a little bit of money every chance she gets, as well as jewelry. Hopefully she can acquire a lot of money, as well as a nice coat/cape collection;-)

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