Never the Belle of the Ball

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Who hasn’t read a historical where something titillating or scandalous doesn’t occur at a ball? The gossips’ watchful eyes missed nothing, except perhaps the clandestine meetings in gardens arbors or curtained alcoves. And what was the most romantic dance at a ball? Why, the  ever-popular waltz, of course. Considered shocking and risque when it was first introduced—after all there was a great deal of physical contact—the dance was destined to be a hit.

Some sources suggest the waltz can be traced back to the 16th century and is thought to have originated from an Austrian pheasant dance. After all, the word waltz comes from  an old German word, waltzen, which means to glide, turn, or roll. However, the dance  didn’t became commonplace until the late 18th century, with England being the notable exception. The more proper and reserved (stuffy) English  waited a bit longer to accept the scandalous dance.

 

Around 1810 the wicked waltz started to be seen in Regency ballrooms. Nonetheless, it was still considered improper and many young women were initially discouraged from participating in the dance. It gained popularity as the period progressed, becoming one of the most sought after dances between sweethearts. 

During the Regency Era, a man wasn’t permitted to waltz with a young woman at Almack’s unless one of the Patronesses introduced them and approved the dance. The whole dancing thing was highly formal too. Unless you were betrothed or married, a couple absolutely could not dance together more than twice. Scandalous! 

 

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

I’ve always thought the waltz was terribly romantic.  At some point or other, I’ve had all my hero and heroines waltzing together. In Bride of Falcon, Chance and Ivonne  are reunited at a ball after a three-year separation.  Sadly, during that time, Ivonne suffers an injury and no longer dances. She’s never been the belle of a ball. 

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Bride of Falcon Blurb

After five Seasons, Ivonne Wimpleton has accepted she’s a haute ton undesirable. Always a bit ungraceful, her suitors are men desperate to get their hands on her marriage settlement. Guarded and aloof, she’s resigned herself to spinsterhood. She doesn’t mind her fate, since Chancy Faulkenhurst, the man who once held her heart, left for India years ago without an explanation. When Ivonne’s father, Viscount Wimpleton, refuses Chance’s request for her hand in marriage, he transfers to the East India Troops. Chance’s dreams of making Ivonne his wife are soundly dashed. Ignoring her letters, he closes the door on his heart and Ivonne and remains in India.

 

Six years later, severely injured during a battle, Chance returns to England physically and emotionally scarred. His love for Ivonne remains just as strong. When he learns due to a whim of Prinny’s she must choose one of the despots whose offered for her hand, Chance is determined that none should have her but him. Except, not only is she infuriated he made no effort to contact her in all those years, in Chance’s absence, his father arranged a marriage for him and fully expects Chance to honor the agreement.

Here’s a snippet from Bride of Falcon- Regency Novella  which releases today!

Edwina favored him with a tight-lipped smile. “It’s a splendid evening for a turn about the gardens. The honeysuckle there,” she pointed in the opposite direction of the alcove, “smells divine, does it not, Captain?”

“Er, indeed.” Captain Kirkpatrick didn’t spare the fragrant vine a glimpse. He peered behind them. “You haven’t seen Miss Wimpleton, have you?”

Edmund canted his blond head. “Why no, not since I asked her to dance.”

“She danced with you? She told me she doesn’t dance.” Scowling, Captain Kirkpatrick scratched his buttocks.

Staring pointedly at his indecorous behavior, Edwina raised a fair eyebrow.

“No, she doesn’t dance anymore, but I still like to make the offer.” Edmund flashed one of his engaging smiles. “Ivonne wanted to try her hand at cards tonight. Claimed she felt lucky.”

Cards bored Ivonne as much as French lessons or gossip of Prinny, yet she would play the entire night if she didn’t have to dance. Never nimble on her feet, with a lame leg, she’d become even less so. A blindfolded elephant in half-boots possessed more grace than she.

Creating a spectacle before two hundred guests again was unthinkable. She had done so once before and found herself plopped upon her derriere, her gown mid-thigh, exposing her legs for all to see. She no longer danced, and gentlemen rarely asked her to. Nonetheless, Edmund always made a token request at those gatherings that included dancing as part of the evening’s entertainment.

 

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What’s your favorite book or movie scene that takes place at a ball?

Follow Collette Cameron:

Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them.

Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time.

Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.

12 Responses

  1. Barbara Monajem

    There’s a scene in Heyer’s Sylvester where the hero and heroine have harsh words on the dance floor, and she takes off in the middle of the dance (I don’t recall which sort of dance it was) leaving him standing alone looking like a fool. It’s a great scene. 🙂

    Great excerpt! I love the bit where the captain scratches his buttocks. Such a telling little detail. 😉

  2. jessicajefferson

    I love balls in Regency romance. It’s the reason I went into the genre. No matter how many proms I went to, they never lived up to my impossible Austen-inspired vision of what dancing should be!

  3. Maggi Andersen

    The waltz is elegant and so useful for bringing characters together for snatches of conversation and a bit of flirting! Love the excerpt!

  4. Ally Broadfield

    Yes, the waltz is really the only dance where the hero and heroine would be able to hold a lengthy conversation. Poor Ivonne, not being able to dance. It’s too cruel!