A REGENCY WAY OF LIFE

July 20, 2022 | Author Friend Promo, Cooking

from Vonnie Hughes

During the Regency era, and also most of the Victorian era, rout cakes were eaten at large gatherings called routs which were like afternoon teas that lasted long into the evening. Routs bore a marked resemblance to today’s cocktail parties where fashion was displayed, everyone stood, holding a drink and or some finger food in one hand. There was a little chatting then on you went to the next ‘rout’ after you’d sussed out whether your friends’ and neighbors’ fashionable garb was equal to your own. The upper echelon often attended more than one rout in a day.

So-called rout cakes were often consumed at these gatherings and were akin to drop cakes, quite plain by our standards – no ornate cupcake decorations or fussiness of that nature.

Below is a recipe for rout cakes borrowed from The Cook and Housekeeper’s Dictionary by Mary Eaton, 1822. Look at the HUGE amount of flour and butter! This mix would make many, many little cakes. Not, of course, that the lady of the house had slaved over a hot stove. No doubt her cook had that honor, baking in a kitchen so smoky she/he could hardly see.

ROUT DROP CAKES

2 lbs. flour

1 lb. butter

1 lb. sugar

1 lb. currants, cleaned and dried

2 eggs

1 lg. spoonful orange-flower water

1 lg. spoonful rose water

1 lg. spoonful sweet wine

1 lg. spoonful brandy

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Mix flour, butter, sugar, and currants. Moisten into a stiff paste with eggs, orange-flower water, rose water, sweet wine, and brandy. Drop the paste onto a floured tin plate, and a short time will bake them.

Some authors produce quality books year after year and I have the utmost respect for them. They don’t churn out something quickly for the Christmas trade and other celebratory dates. Instead, they research and work, work and polish.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Most books by Tami Hoag such as Down the Darkest Road and Live to Tell. I think my favourite is Still Waters. Why? Because her novels are so detailed and the solution of the mysteries is never obvious. In fact, the character of the antagonists and protagonists holds the key to the solutions each time. For example, in A Thin Dark Line, it is the generations-old warped solution of ways to protect a family that bubbles to the surface and the bloody mindedness of an ambitious female cop who stands up for her rights amongst male chauvinism that would chop most women off at the knees, that points the way to reasons for the crime and the discovery of the perpetrator(s).

Many books by Jayne Ann Krentz, not her very early ones where the hero was a dyed-in-the-wool MCP as was the fashion of the day, but her books from about 1998 onwards and also her historicals. Love the way her heroes say “huh.” It can mean so many things: they can be having a revelation, they may disagree with the heroine but they sure as hell are not going to say so, or it can be simply their version of a civil reply to modern discourse. My favourites are the Eclipse Bay series and her historicals written under the name of Amanda Quick such as Mistress (Regency) and The Third Circle (Victorian). Most of all, however, I enjoy her futuristic paranormals such as Siren’s Call set on Rainshadow Island and In Too Deep set in Scargill Cove. These appeal to me because of her light hand with the paranormal concepts and the quirkiness of the main characters. She creates otherworlds without belabouring the point. Sometimes writers create alternate worlds that require an immense investment on the part of the reader to learn the settings and morés of those worlds which can have the effect of having the reader skip pages and eventually put the book down. Not so JAK who, after many years of writing, knows just how far she can go to create a world not so very dissimilar to our own.

Obviously, I can’t go far without mentioning the greatest modern storyteller – Nora Roberts. I don’t like many of her earlier books which now seem dated, and I don’t feel that her paranormal ones are in the least bit convincing. However, I totally enjoy her recent single titles such as Tribute and Whiskey Beach. And I especially enjoy The Inn at Boonsborough series. I once saw a review where the reader criticised the Boonsborough ones because they had too much building detail in them. Now that’s the part I am intrigued with. I am not a purist romance reader so I like a bit of meat with my coffee froth. I wait for each new release of Nora’s, as do thousands of others, not all of them women by a long way.

Stieg Larsson, in particular his series of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Anti right wing extremist and magazine editor-in-chief, what a shame most of his books were only found after his death in 2004. I suggest for those who want a touch of reality watered down with a little idealism, read Larsson. Whether you see the movies first or read the books first, I promise you will enjoy Lizbeth Salander, the toughest cyber-expert on the planet.

Rick Mofina, a great suspense writer endorsed by the best suspense writers such as James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Sandra Brown, Tess Gerritsen etc. He is Canadian and so less inclined to use acronyms which can be a relief for a reader steeped in jargon which has to be researched. I thoroughly enjoyed Be Mine and my next choice is The Dying Hour. He writes about a crime reporter and unravelling detective in several of his novels, then switches to another team in his later books. If you like suspense and that ‘unable to put it down’ feeling, then choose Mofina.

Another one to keep an eye on: Going to read more by J.M. Gregson. Have just finished The Fox in the Forest about the murder of a well-liked town vicar. The murdered man is one of those rare characters whom everyone liked. Of course, the reader thinks “mistaken identity?” Gregson has an impressive writing record of both non-fiction and fiction. I enjoyed the British outlook to solving crime – stoic, authentic and painstaking – and the author’s writing experience showed by his excellent characterisations. No character was just a sketch. It was an in-depth exploration of people both likeable and unlikeable.

So what authors do you enjoy? Have you stopped to ask yourself Why do you like their writing?

Regency novels by Vonnie:

A TOUCH OF TREASON

wherein a woman forced into servitude meets a man struggling with family debt and they become embroiled in the world of espionage.

THE SECOND SON

The fate of second sons and the practice of primogeniture is at the basis of this novel where John, who has secretly despised his older brother for years suddenly comes face to face with the reality of ownership and responsibility for the lives of others.

DANGEROUS HOMECOMING

A follow-on from The Second Son. Originally published by Robt Hale UK and when they closed down after almost 80 years it was published on Amazon and Smashwords under the title Dangerous Homecoming. In this book Colly Hetherington and Juliana Colebrook leave Portugal to escape the ravages of war, but on their arrival in ‘safe’ England, face a vicious danger that neither had ever imagined.

MONFORT’S MARRIAGE

A bit hotter than my other Regencies.

Matthew Monfort has two excellent reasons for loathing members of the ton, but thanks to his father’s machinations, he finds himself inveigled into offering for Lady Verity Tristan. But she needn’t think she’s going to win him over.

ENTANGLEMENT (Novella)

Originally published by Musa under the title ‘Captive.’

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie, in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie.

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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