In historical romances, you will often see the theme of arranged marriages, where daughters are used like bartered chattel. Their only worth is if they find an appropriate match to benefit the family. Using daughters to form alliances, save family finances or merge two powerful families, has been going on for centuries. In many cultures it still goes on today.
A ‘lady’ of quality had very little option than to follow Societies dictates. These ladies were not raised in a manner that afforded them the opportunity, or ability, to do anything to survive on their own – financially that is. If a woman, who was a member of the Ton, had to survive on her own, most historical romances have them reverting to the world’s oldest profession.
In the modern era woman have more opportunities to support themselves. They can work and have successful careers. They are educated beyond the skills of the ballroom.
My soon to be released Regency romance, Invitation to Scandal, (April 2012) has a heroine, Miss Rheda Kerrick, the daughter of an impoverished Baron, who is determined to create her own financial independence. I will admit, that to begin with, she first seeks her financial independence in a rather illegal manner, but she has an estate to save for her younger brother, and a village full of orphans and widows to support. However, she does have a legitimate business venture in mind.
A business the newly arrived, handsome Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore’s stallion could very well ensure comes to fruition. Unfortunately, due to her other activities she has to remain hidden from the Viscount, which makes it difficult, but not impossible, to get what she wants….
I like my heroines’ independent and thinking that life owes them more than simply to be bartered like chattel, or sold as breeding stock. Rheda, having a wastrel father, who gambled and drank his children’s livelihood away, has a solid aversion to relying on any man for her wellbeing. Particularly a husband.
I’d love to hear from you. Is it possible for a Regency heroine to use more than her body to make her way in the world? Even if it might not be completely above board?
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