Gambling in the Regency Era

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When Lady Honor Baxendale needs to win money at cards, she has many games from which to choose. She has learned the skill at her father’s knee.
Gambling was rife in the Regency era, and there were many games on offer. Men lost fortunes, their lives and the lives of their families ruined. Honor’s father was no exception; her life shattered by tragedy.
Faro, Whist, Backgammon, Quadrille, Piquet, Hazard, Quinze, Vingt-un, Speculation and Lansquenet, were all popular card games, on offer at men’s clubs and gambling hells.
Aristocrats, the idle rich, lived lavish often reckless lifestyles, funded by income generated by their vast estates. When Beau Brummel fled to the Continent to escape his creditors, William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley took the place of honor in White’s club seated at the bay window. It was here that Alvanley bet a friend £3,000 as to which of two raindrops would first reach the bottom of a pane of the bow window. It is not recorded whether he won his bet.
Other bets in White’s famous betting book were even more eccentric. Some of those entries were on sports, but more often on political developments, especially during the chaotic years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. A good many were social bets, such as whether a friend would marry this year, or whom.
Eventually, Alvanley’s family estates had to be sold to pay off his debts. Underbank Hall in Stockport was sold by auction in 1823, most of the Bredbury estate was sold in lots in 1825, the Arden Hall mansion in 1833. He eventually resigned his membership of White’s.

With an urgent need to make a good deal of money, Honor Baxendale chooses the game that offers her the best chance of winning. Then she sets her plan in motion. When she requires help whom better than a solicitor, the neighbor’s son, Lord Edward Brandreth? but he proves to be a harsh critic of her plan. If only she can remain steadfast, while his handsome green eyes coolly censure her.
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Freedom. That’s all Lady Honor Baxendale wants—for her sisters and for herself. Honor has a bold plan to become financially independent, using a skill she learned at her father’s knee. She seeks the help of a solicitor and is pleased with her choice…as long as she can resist the solicitor himself.
Lord Edward Winborne has been happy to come to the aid of his four sisters in the past. But when a neighbor’s daughter, Lady Honor Baxendale, requests his help for a dangerous scheme she has in mind, he feels it his duty to dissuade her. When that fails, he wants to protect her, and then somehow finds he wants to do more. Much more.

Honor stopped at the bottom of the stairs and puffed out a breath, causing a stray wisp of hair on her forehead to flutter. She tucked the tendril back under her hat and stepped smartly out into the street. Lord Edward’s eyes had been like chipped emerald ice, his manner measured. He’d displayed none of the warmth he’d exhibited when he laughed with her sisters in their parlor. He was so, so very masculine. She’d had very few dealings with men over the years, and never with anyone quite as impressive as Lord Edward. She’d felt transparent under his gaze, and she’d had trouble hiding the whole truth from him. Dealing with Alberic Leighton would be an entirely different affair. Lying was far easier when you hated someone, and she loathed him with every fiber of her being. Already an hour late, she set off down the street to meet her mother and Faith at the dressmaker’s shop.
“Ouch!” Faith jumped as the dressmaker pinned her into the white satin ball gown, trimmed at the neckline and hem with cornflowers, which highlighted her blue eyes. Honor tried to decide if she liked the white lace sleeves over pink satin, slashed in the Spanish style.
“If you kept still, Faith, you would not get pricked,” her mother said.
Faith fussed with the dainty white lace robe edged with pearls. “What do you think, Honor?”
“Very pretty. It suits you to perfection.” Her mother glanced sideways at her.
“Where have you been, Honor?”
“I couldn’t resist a visit to the museum. I rarely get a chance.”
“Oh, what did you see?” Faith could never keep still for long and now scratched her knee.
“Please do be still, my lady,” the modiste said through a mouthful of pins. As Honor had popped into the museum for a few minutes to lend legitimacy to her claim, she was able to give a decent account of the latest exhibits.
“Did you take your maid with you?” her mother asked.
“Yes. I’ve sent her home.”
“I do so want to see the Egyptian exhibit,” Faith said. “I saw pictures in a book. It looked so mysterious, it made me shiver.”
“Then we shall spend an afternoon there,” Honor said. “We have an entire Season to enjoy the delights of the town.” Her mother swept her gaze over Honor, a look of despair in her blue eyes. “We’ll dress you next, Honor.”
“Has Father agreed for me to have a new gown?” Honor asked. “But of course. You think so little of your stepfather?” Honor dropped her gaze to her hands.
“It’s just that he has so many expenses, Mama.” She refrained from adding that his stepdaughter usually came at the very end of the long list.
“Well, he has agreed to several costumes. You shall need clothes for your trousseau. What sort of evening dress would suit Lady Honor, Madame Chevalle?” Madam Chevalle’s black eyes flicked over her and registered disapproval.
“She should never wear that color.” She shook her dark head. “It does nothing for ’er.”
“I know,” her mother said in a despairing tone. “My daughter would insist on it. She dresses so plainly.”
“I shall make her a walking dress like Lady Faith’s of jaconet muslin, but with a cherry-red velvet spencer. Because Lady Honor is older and has darker coloring, she may wear a richer color in the evening, êtes-vous d’accord?”
“Oh, yes,” her mother said warming to the theme. “But not too garish. Something pretty like Faith’s gown, to show off her coloring. Honor has lovely dark hair and eyes.”
“Oh, how biased you are, dear Mama.” Honor leaned over and kissed her cheek.
Madame Chevalle rushed from the room. She returned moments later with a bolt of machine-embroidered primrose silk gauze. “It will be scalloped at the hem, with an underdress of white satin.” She draped the cloth over Honor’s shoulder and placed her hands at Honor’s waist. “The bodice will be tight to emphasize her excellent figure, which, Lady Honor, you should show off, oui?”
Honor fondled the material, which was as light as a cobweb. It was not right at all for her scheme. “I would prefer crimson velvet or silk.”
Her mother’s jaw dropped. “Crimson?”
Madame Chevalle’s dark eyes lit from within. “Ah, yes! I have just the thing.”

LADY FAITH TAKES A LEAP – The Baxendale Sisters book #2 is released Jun 1st.

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Maggi Andersen is an Australian author of historical romance, mysteries, contemporary romantic suspense and young adult novels. She lives in a pretty historical town with her husband, a retired lawyer. Maggi is a bird lover, she supports the RSPCA, IFAW and Youth off The Streets. Maggi's latest Regency series is The Baxendale Sisters. Book #1 Lady Honor's Debt is available on Amazon, and relevant sites.

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