Women and Sex in Georgian England
by Em Brown
In Georgian England, women were not considered sexual beings. They could, however, be corrupted by men, who were allowed their sexuality. A woman’s virtue was a dear thing. In Pamela, Samuel Richardson’s highly popular novel of the time, the virtue of the heroine is rewarded when, after resisting all efforts by her wealthy master to seduce her, she receives his sincere proposal for marriage.
To this day, it is not uncommon to find stories where the woman is relatively chaste and inexperienced in sex while the man is the more experienced and more assertive one. If the heroine does have her sexual desires awakened, it is often at the hero’s doing. I’ve written such stories (Mastering the Marchioness and Submitting to the Rake), but these days, my heroines tend to be just as openly sexual, experienced, and feisty in bed as their male counterparts.
The heroine of my Punishing Miss Primrose series, Beatrice Primrose, is completely comfortable in her sexuality and has no trouble asserting it—to the consternation (and arousal) of the hero, Lord Carey. One reviewer described her as a “believably strong as nails female who is more than willing to go toe to toe with this hot as hell [marquess].” In the story, the bedchamber is the setting for a power struggle between two very passionate people, each vying in their own way to right a wrong and avenge the past.
Punishing Miss Primrose is set in the Regency period, but Regency views on the sexuality of women did not differ greatly from those of the Georgian period. Nevertheless, I had a great deal of fun writing a heroine who was strong in her sexuality, even though women who were lascivious were often considered wicked, as in Henry Fielding’s Shamela, or they were prostitutes, as featured in John Clelend’s erotic novel of the same decade, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.
Woman’s sexuality has come a long way since then, but I can’t help wondering if we still have a ways to go.
About Punishing Miss Primrose, Parts I-V
Miss Primrose needs to be punished.
A member of the wickedly wanton Inn of the Red Chrysanthemum, where the most taboo and illicit pleasures are indulged, Miss Primrose—or Mistress Primrose, as she prefers—left Nicholas Edelton a shell of a man. Now his older brother, Spencer Edelton, the Marquess of Carey, intends to provide her a set-down she will never forget.
Weary from exacting her revenge upon the man who raped her sister, Beatrice Primrose has had her fill of men of privilege and presumption, but she accepts a fateful invitation from a handsome nobleman to spend a sennight at his estate for a grand sum of money. She soon learns, however, that she will not get to reprise her role as Mistress. To her horror, she finds his lordship expects her to submit to him!
But Beatrice won’t give in so easily.
In a clash of wills, fueled by vengeance and lust, Lord Carey and Miss Primrose wrestle for dominance in, and out of, the bedchamber. Their biggest struggle, however, may be against their own desires…
Can Miss Primrose take what she dishes? And will Lord Carey succumb or succeed in punishing Miss Primrose?
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“I thought I told you to wait in your chambers.”
The voice at the entrance startled her, and she dropped the book. Turning, she held up her lamp. His lordship stood with his hands at his hips. He had removed his coat, and his hair was slightly disheveled, as if he had run his hands through it several times. There was a gloss to his eyes that she had not noticed during dinner.
“A Mistress does not receive commands. She gives them,” she informed him as if he were her student. She set the lamp on a table nearby.
The corner of his mouth twitched, as if he were about to smirk.
“And you take great pleasure in commanding others,” he said as he advanced toward her.
Did he mean to accuse her? she wondered.
He stopped and picked up her book, noting its title. “How fitting.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Your pardon?”
“Have you read it?”
“Some years ago.”
“And do you find a kindred spirit in the heroine, a whore, thief, and felon?”
The antagonistic edge in his tone made her defensive. She snatched the book from him, though it was his property.
“Through Moll Flanders, the author has painted the plight of women with great sympathy. One cannot help but admire the determination and resourcefulness of Mrs. Flanders.”
“A woman of loose virtue, dishonest, scheming—by her own admission. In the end, she and her husband live in sincere penitence for their wickedness.”
“A luxury not afforded to many.”
He paused in thought. “You believe her actions were compelled by her circumstances.”
“A woman must make her own fortune and seek her own justice. She cannot expect these will be granted to her in any easy form. She may be the most moral and honest and intelligent creature, but these virtues are not always awarded. And if a wrong be done to her, who will defend her? Will it ever be made right?”
Seeing his look of surprise, she realized she must have spoken too vehemently. She glanced away to hide her emotion.
“An unfortunate reality,” he said, after a pause, with more compassion than she expected. “But one’s circumstances, no matter how dire, do not absolve a man of wrongdoing.”
“You would that a beggar submit to starvation rather than steal a loaf of bread?”
“Are your circumstances comparable to that of a beggar?”
She stared at him. Why would he ask such a question? What a strange evening this had become! Though she was partly excited to be engaging in a discussion on the merits of virtue—she could think of no one of late with whom she had had such interesting discourse, and he had listened to her opinions without hastily dismissing them—it was wholly unexpected, leaving her perplexed and a little rattled.
“My circumstances are no affair of yours,” she said.
Hoping to place some distance between them so that she could compose her thoughts, she turned away from him, but he reached for the bookshelf beside her, blocking her path with his right arm. He was now closer to her than ever, and she detected the aroma of brandy upon him. Her pulse quickened. She had neglected to devise a strategy for her engagement with this patron, and she sensed the danger of not having done her due diligence, especially as she found herself responding in a most inconvenient fashion to his nearness.
About the Author
Em Brown writes erotic, mostly historical, romance. She especially enjoys wickedly wanton tales from the Georgian and Regency periods. For more about her stories, please visit www.EroticHistoricals.com, where you can sign up for a quarterly newsletter to be eligible for early peeks, freebies, and specials.