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  • Jenny Brown

Not Your Usual “Girl Dressed as a Boy” Historical Romance

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

You’ve probably read quite a few Regency Historical Romances where the hero falls in love with a girl who is disguised as a boy and spends much of the book agonizing about it until, much to his relief, she reveals her true sex. Not in Undisciplined Ardor! The conflict here is something else and far more contemporary. The hero knows the heroine’s gender from the start. What poses the conflict is that, no matter how passionately she might want him, she refuses to either dress or behave the way a woman of their time was expected to.

This puts the hero in quite a spot, because if he gives into his love for her, he will have to deal with being seen, in public, with someone who looks very much like a boy. And this particular hero—one of my very favorite of all the ones I’ve written—is in a situation where his entire future depends on his looking as macho as possible.

The heroine is also in a tough situation, because she is that most complex of creatures, a straight women who loves men but whose need for independence has made her feel she can only live the life she has chosen as a man, because, in her world, only men are given the freedom to live an adventurous life.

It isn’t just a matter of cultural norms. There’s no reliable way to stop conception in the Regency period, no matter what you might have read in other romances. Until the successful galvanization of rubber in 1844 barrier forms of contraception—which were all there were—were hit or miss. So a woman who fell in love with a man and gave into her need for him was going to be facing the likelihood of annual or biannual pregnancies well into her early 40s. That doesn’t leave much room for an adventurous life.

So while my hero is trying to deal with what other men might think of him if he gives into his love for the heroine, the heroine must face what her love will do to her dreams of becoming an expert equestrian good enough to perform at Astleys.

This book is a powerful romance, but it is also a valid historical novel because of how it treats gender in way that respects real history. I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing it!

Buy or download Undisciplined Ardor HERE.

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