Take it away Collette!
A Gypsy Noblewoman
The heroine in The Viscount’s Vow, Evangeline (Vangie) Caruthers, is a bit unusual for a Regency romance. Though she’s the daughter of a baronet, she’s also part Romani; a gypsy princess in fact.
I thought I’d share some of the interesting Romani culture tidbits I came across while doing my research. These were true in 1814, the year The Viscount’s Vow is set in.
First, all Roma—that’s how they refer to themselves—have a Gadžo name, their Christian name, and a Roma name. Vangie’s Roma name is Zora. Gypsies vistas, or clans are ruled by a bandolier, who deals with the day-to-day issues that might come up. This person is chosen because of their maturity and wisdom. He is not the gypsy king.
I found contrasting information about divorce. Some sources claimed it was complex because of the bride price paid before the marriage. Others said that within the gypsy culture, if a woman leaves her husband, she’s divorced him and is free to marry another. I used this aspect in The Viscount’s Vow because no bride price was paid for Vangie, so the point was mute. Purity before marriage was strictly adhered to, which is in direct contrast to how the travelers, especially the women have been portrayed historically.
I was astounded to learn the rigorous customs the Roma adhere to regarding ceremonial cleanliness or pollution. For instance, they wouldn’t use a handkerchief because it’s unclean, and they were supposed to only wash in running water. Vangie has been raised as an English noblewoman who spends time with her Romani clan, so she does take baths. Part of her internal conflict is a result of the clash between her English and Roma heritage.
Ian is accepted as a gaje, a Gypsy Friend, which essentially makes him an honorary Gypsy, and he is entitled to the hospitality and protection of the clan. It’s a good thing too, because he has an extended visit with the Roma after Vangie leaves him.
Gypsies are a blood family, and the only way for a gawdji (a non-gypsy) to become part of the family is to either be sponsored by a member of the clan, or travel with the gypsies for a time. Then the vista votes whether to accept the gawdji into the tribe. If a vote of consent is passed, an initiation ceremony must be undergone. Ian doesn’t ever go to this extent, because his time with the Roma is temporary.
One custom I found extremely fascinating is that when a gypsy woman is pregnant, she is cared for by the other women of the clan, and dear hubby takes over all her duties. There’s so much more I could share about these fascinating people, who were continually shunned and persecuted, but the final bit that honestly surprised me the most, was how many of the Roma tribes were devout Christians.
So there you are; a brief introduction to Romani culture and customs. You’ll find many more references to gypsy foods, dress, language, and laws in The Viscount’s Vow.
Want to know more about The Viscount's Vow?
Here's the blurb:
Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a viscount and a half-gypsy noblewoman to marry in this Regency romance, sprinkled with suspense, humor, and inspiration.
Half Romani, half English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love—an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her—snared in the trap of his own making.
When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous.
At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal.
Now I know you all are hankering for an excerpt! Here you go!
Ian placed a hand on Vangie’s shoulder. “I’m so very sorry.”
Oh, how she needed a comforting touch. But not his. Never again his.
She wrenched away from him.
Her voice ringing with scathing condemnation, she said, “Tell me, Lord Warrick, are you terribly disappointed I’ll not have a distended belly proclaiming to the world I carry your seed before you discard me?”
Vangie heard him suck in a great gulp of air.
“She was lying, Vangie.”
She clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle the sobs demanding release.
Was she? Or was Lucinda telling the truth, and Ian the liar?
When she didn’t respond he pressed, “Lucinda knew you were behind me. Her lies were contrived to cause you pain and grief.”
He laid a hand on her shoulder. “We’re legally married. By all that is holy, I swear it.”
What did he know of holiness?
Vangie struggled to turn over, the weight of the quilt covering her adding to the burden of her grief. She pinned him with a direct look.
“Tell me one thing,” she rasped. “Did you or did you not venture to London for the express purpose of causing my downfall?”
“Vangie. . .”
“Perhaps downfall isn’t accurate. Putting me in my place? Giving me my just due? Ruining me?”
He said nothing. Had guilt rendered him speechless? She searched his face. His handsome features were etched with sorrow, and his eyes . . . was that regret? Or . . . could it be? Were those tears awash in the silvery depths?
Her heart twisted painfully. Blast and damn. No. She’d not feel compassion for him. She was the victim. She would offer him no quarter, no mercy.
“Well, did you?”
“That was before I. . .”
Pain, razor-sharp pierced her heart and left it bleeding. “It’s a simple question, Ian. Yes or no?”
“It’s not that simple—”
With a doggedness that surprised even her, Vangie persisted. “Yes or no?”
“Sweeting, I’d been told. . .”
Told? Fury whipped anew. She bit out, “Yes. Or. No?”
Absolute, resolute, demanding truth’s validation, either to mend her shattered heart or annihilate it completely, Vangie would have her answer. No more a corked-brained, beguiled miss, blinded by love. Looking through the twin lenses of betrayal and deceit, she could at last see Ian clearly.
His eyes pleaded with her to understand. His voice low and filled with self-condemnation, he uttered but one syllable.
About the Author:
In February 2011, Collette decided to sit down and write a Regency suspense romance with a few Highlander’s thrown in to spice things up a bit. She wrote Highlander’s Hope, the first book in her Blue Rose Trilogy. She has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master's in Teaching. She's been married for 30 years, has 3 amazing adult children, and 5 dachshunds. Her puppy, Ayva, sits on her lap while she writes. Ayva also nibbles at and lies on the keyboard. Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You'll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.
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Want to know what I thought of Collette's book?
Cameron delivers a wonderful story to historical romance readers. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is a must-add to your bookshelf. If you’ve never tried a historical romance before, this should be the book you experiment with.
The plot is simple: Ian the hero goes to London with the purpose of ruining Evangeline “Vangie” the heroine because he’s been led to believe she caused the death of his father and brother. Not knowing there’s a more sinister plot afoot that’s driving his actions, he meets Vangie and hates that he’s attracted to her and she’s nothing like what he’d been told she was. Vangie is innocent, but not the annoying kind. Cameron does a wonderful job of creating a heroine that accurately reflects the women of the time period without driving the reader nuts. Vangie is all heart and sweetness and love but she’s brave and compassionate too. I liked her right away.
Ian was a loveable rogue. One of my favorite heroes in a while. I fell right into step with him as I read the story and loved reading his parts of the story from his point of view. He’s charming and mischievous and yet burdened with a dark mission to make Vangie pay for sins he’s been told she’s committed.
When the pair get compromised and are forced to marry, you can imagine the sparks that fly and the misunderstandings that the poor couple face. This is certainly a “page-turner” and a delightful one at that. It had equal parts humor, sweetness and spiciness and is an absolute must read for a romance fan!
Thanks for stopping by The League of Rogues Collette!
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