A Duke In Time opens with three women meeting in a solicitor’s office ready to hear the reading of their husbands’ wills. Imagine their surprise when they discover that they’re married to the same man! Did this happen in real life? I never read such a scenario, but I’ve read real-life stories galore of couples marrying and one leaving for greener pastures. During the Regency, there were few ways for a person to escape the matrimonial knots they found themselves tied to. Remember, divorce was a tricky and expensive business in the Regency period, and few were ever granted.
Between, 1750 and 1815, there were more than one hundred and seventy-nine cases filed for bigamy proceedings in the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court. Wives and husbands alike were brought up on charges for these crimes. When convicted, the wayward spouse faced a variety of punishments including branding on the thumb (ouch!), incarceration, transportation to Australia or America, and not to mention fines of various amounts. Newgate prison was a “hot” destination spot for these convicted bigamists.
You may wonder how this could have happened. After all, marriages were recorded in the parish record books. There were witnesses to the ceremony. But back then, there was no central registry for marriages as we know of it today. A couple could marry, but under the darkest of nights, a spouse could disappear and never be heard from again.
In 1823, a stop-gap measure was mandated to keep some type of permanent records of who was legally shacking up with whom. Every marriage had to be entered into the parish register, and a copy of every page was required to be sent to the bishop assigned to the parish. Thus, we have the makings of a central department for the recording of valid, certified marriages across the country. It wasn’t until 1837 that the civil General Register Office came into existence to keep permanent records of marriages, births, and deaths.
Have you ever heard the term “ghosting?” It occurs when one party in a relationship just disappears never to be heard from again. In a manner of speaking, one could say that the crime of bigamy might be how people ghosted each other during the Regency.
The Widow Rules: Book 1
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.
Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?
With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.
The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.
Tuesday, July 6
Excerpt at Bookish Rantings
Friday, July 9
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Monday, July 12
Review at Michelle the PA Loves to Read
Tuesday, July 13
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Wednesday, July 14
Review at Anna’s Book Blog
Thursday, July 15
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Friday, July 16
Review at andreajanel_reads