Welcome to the Best of the Regency! It’s Regan here and my guest today is Kristi Ann Hunter. Kristi is the RITA award-winning author of sweet Regency romances with elements of faith. When she is not writing or interacting with her readers, Kristi spends time with her family and her church. A born lover of stories she is also an avid reader. From her youth, she dreamed of sharing her own stories with others and she can't quite believe that dream actually came true.
Today she is sharing with us How England’s Parliament Worked in the Regency Era. Kristi is also giving away a copy of her book. A US winner can choose between paper and ebook; an international winner will get the ebook.
One of the fascinating things about any culture is looking at how they govern themselves and what process goes in to making their laws. When I wrote An Inconvenient Beauty, I knew I wanted my duke doing more than going to balls and clubs, so I spent some time researching how Parliament worked.
When a law-making body is centuries old, with roots dating back to the Roman senate, things can be very complicated and very interesting. The voting traditions of Parliament were founded before electronic buttons, before notebooks could be had for a pittance, even before the creation of the ink pen. Without these tools of easy record keeping, they developed another way to vote on major issues.
No, they don't raise their hands or cast some sort of secret ballot.
Instead, when it came time to vote, those men in favor of the bill in question would actually get up and leave the room. They would be counted in the lobby outside the meeting room while those who remained seated inside were considered votes against the bill.
This meant that the default vote was no. If a member of parliament didn't care about a bill enough to be bothered with rising from his bench and joining the others voting for a bill, it was assumed he agreed with the status quo.
The vote by body count was called a division and was used for the votes that were too close to call by verbal assent or were highly controversial.
Today, they still vote by the movement of bodies but now everyone has to move. When the building was rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1834, two lobbies were built on either side of the House of Lords meeting room. The lobbies are labeled as content and not content though they align with voting for or against a bill instead of for or against the status quo.
The House of Commons has lobbies as well, though they are labeled Aye and Nay.
Before a division occurs, a bell is rung so that people not currently in the meeting room know to come participate. They have eight minutes from the time the bell is rung to be in the meeting room or they will be locked out. The lobbies are cleared of people - particularly of any aides or other visitors who don't have a vote - and then the division occurs.
If this sounds complicated, it's nothing compared to the back and forth motions a bill can go through trying to be approved by both houses. In An Inconvenient Beauty one such bill, fraught with changes and debate, causes a great deal of problems for the heroine's uncle, and by extension the heroine herself. But since women weren't allowed to sit on the esteemed red benches of the House of Lords (or even the less pedigreed green benches of the House of Commons) it is up to the Duke of Riverton to do what is necessary to make the division go the way they need it to. And to win the heart of the fair maiden in the process.
Over the years, the procedure of Parliamentary voting has evolved to include a roster of names instead of notches on the side of a reed, but the heritage is still represented in a way that full modernization to something such as electronic or roll call voting wouldn't maintain. It is a testament to the depth of history the United Kingdom possesses. And it’s a history that lures readers back again and again, no matter how complicated it may sometimes seem.
An Inconvenient Beauty:
Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.
Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she'll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation.
Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after?
To see the book, check out Kristi's Website. And keep up with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.