I have to admit it. I went to Wikipedia to look up the “Victorian era” when I was invited by fellow author, Isabel Roman, to contribute to the “Slip Into Something Victorian” blog. I hope I am not alone in saying I had a vague idea of when the Victorian period took place. I knew it encompassed my particular time period of interest, the U.S. Civil War, but beyond that I wasn’t sure.
So, my quick little bit of research told me that the Victorian period lasted from 1837 to 1901 during, of course, the reign of England’s Queen Victorian.
It appears that quite a bit happened during those years. As a romance writer, there are two things that drew me to this time period instead of earlier periods. One is the fact that men had stopped powdered wigs–ugh! The other is that men had also stopped wearing knee length britches and leggings and began wearing trousers instead. As I thought of the essential disrobing-to-make-love scenes, I couldn’t find it romantic to take off a white wig and hosiery. My men wear trousers. Take this excerpt from LILA’S VOW, for example. I just can’t see this working if our hero, Jack, needs to put on his hose first (or a wig)!
Hint! Keep reading! There is a contest at the end!
Excerpt from LILA’S VOW by Diane Wylie
Setup: Gettysburg, PA. Schoolteacher, Lila Sutton, is caring for wounded soldiers in her house. She is going out to get the freshly washed uniform from the clothesline for Captain Montgomery.
Quickly, she pulled jacket and trousers off the line, tossing them over her arm. Then her heart stopped. A rustling noise from behind made her freeze momentarily. Then, before she could move, a grimy hand was clamped over her mouth.
“Don’t scream.” Hot, sour breath hissed into her face, and a thin man’s pinched, bearded face was up to hers. “Give me food and money, if you know what’s good for you. I’ll shoot anyone that tries to stop me from leaving this place!” Terror swept through her in a rush.
“Hey! Let her go!” A man’s voice shouted.
Lila’s teeth came down hard on the dirty hand, driving deep into the webbing of his thumb. With her heart pounding, she turned and brought her knee up into his crotch at the same time. The man stumbled backward, howling. With horror, she saw the glint on the end of the gun barrel pointing in her direction.
Then she saw the flash of a pale figure. There was a loud “thunk,” and the man dropped like a stone just as the moon peeked out from behind the clouds, as if it too wanted to see what was going on.
Standing there, black iron skillet in one hand, dressed in bandages, a sling, and her mother’s best calico apron, was Captain Montgomery.
“Are you all right, Lila?”
She stared at him and nodded. Her heart was still pounding, and her mouth tasted like dirt, but she was fine. He was quite a sight with his muscles illuminated by silvery moonlight, a ruffled loincloth, and bare feet…he resembled a dandified savage with a beard.
A small giggle bubbled up in her throat. Then she saw him wiggle his toes. Lila couldn’t stop it now. Uncontrolled laughter came up from her belly.
“Y-you look r-ridiculous!”
He took a step toward her.
“N-no, no,” she laughed, “d-don’t move. The w-wind is picking up.” She choked and giggled.
A breeze suddenly lifted the bottom of the apron. His grin grew wider, and he chuckled. “Then you come here; you have my clothes, Miss!”
The attacker on the ground at his feet groaned. Leaning over, exposing an expanse of muscular thigh, Jack gave him a gentle tap with the skillet, and the groaning stopped.
“Better hurry up before I damage him for good.”
Lila hurried over to his side.
He handed her the skillet then gently touched her cheek with a simple gesture that immediately dampened her mirth. Replacing it was a feeling that she had never experienced before. She yearned to wrap her arms around this man and pull him close. She wanted to run her hands around his back to feel the texture of those hard muscles. She wanted to do that so badly that tears sprang to her eyes.
“Are you all right?” he whispered.
“Y-yes. No… Oh, I don’t know.”
His warm hand gently cupped her chin, and he leaned forward until his lips touched hers so softly…and only for an instant. It was so quick that she thought she might have imagined it except for the sparkle in his dark eyes.
For a moment neither moved. Then he slowly took his hand away. “I’d best get some proper clothes on now.” His sheepish look apologized for spoiling the moment.
“Oh, yes, of course. Um…”
“Have you any…any…uh…”
He grunted. “Say it, Lila. What is it?”
“I…uh…wanted to know if you had any undergarments?”
“You didn’t take any off me, did you?”
Heat rose up her neck. “N-no.”
“Then I don’t have any. Listen, it’s a long story. Can I tell it to you later?”
Lila decided it was a good thing they were out here in the darkness alone when it became obvious this was not going to be an easy thing.
Putting the uniform jacket down on the grass, Lila took the trousers in both hands and opened the waistband. Jack’s eyes smiled into hers. “I can’t put my foot into them up that high, Lila. Can you hold them lower, please?”
Now her breath was really coming in short gasps. Standing directly in front of him, holding the pants, Lila slowly bent her legs until her face was practically smothered by the calico apron. Oh, yes, she knew what was behind that apron.
Well, I hope you liked this little glimpse into my book. I am offering a free ebook file of the three-time award winning LILA’S VOW, to a winner drawn at random from anyone caring to answer or comment on this challenge:
“Name at least one heroic male, fictional or real, who wore knee-length britches and hose.”
Respond to this challenge by leaving a comment before the cutoff date of Saturday, January 23rd, when I will draw a winner’s name. Please be sure to check back here on that date to see if you won!
My thanks to Isabel, a fellow Civil War romance author, for inviting me to visit her blog. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.
To buy Secrets and Sacrifices
Charlotte loses her husband and her identity when she takes on the guise of a Confederate soldier, but the slowly starving South and desperate runaway slaves lead her into big trouble with her wounded heart and with both sides of the American Civil War
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