I am over the moon today to have my very first guest here at the website, and for it to be author Sarah Granger, who has just released the most wonderful Regency m/m romance, A Minor Inconvenience. I confess that I grew up reading Georgette Heyer and love her ability to create and make real a world that’s very different to our own. Sarah, too, has this ability in spades. As I remarked in my review of the novel: The writing is beautiful, some of the wry, clever speeches laugh-out-loud funny, and throughout the whole there is such a sense of time and place that you forget that this mundane world of ours isn’t one of breeches and Almacks, Vauxhall gardens and opera dancers. Sadly.
And without further ado, over to Sarah to tell us about Swedes, and oiled muscular bodies and why research for a novel takes you to some very strange places…
Thanks so much to Anna for hosting me. I’m a fan of her blog as well as her fiction, and am chuffed to bits to be here to explain just how Swedish Massage crept into my newly released Regency romance.
In A Minor Inconvenience, Colonel Theo Lindsay displays rather impressive massage skills for a Rifles officer. I realised when writing the book that Hugh Fanshawe, who suffers from a permanent and painful limp, would benefit from massage, but I was also aware I knew nothing about how widespread knowledge of massage techniques might be in Regency England.
Several rewarding if distracting hours later (my research of course involved looking at many pictures of oiled, muscular bodies being massaged), I had part of my answer—in the first decade of the nineteenth century, a Swedish gentleman, Per Henrik Ling, had formalised a series of exercises and massage techniques into a system he called medical gymnastics. This was designed to ease joint injuries and muscle pain—precisely what Hugh required!
My next challenge was to find out if Theo could plausibly have encountered anyone familiar with medical gymnastics. When I discovered his regiment spent two months in Gothenberg in 1808, the answer was clear—of course Theo would have gone adventuring during that time and met a number of Swedish gentlemen, all of whom were undoubtedly skilled in manipulating the human body.
Hugh, typically, decided the entire subject of medical gymnastics was fascinating and ended up being one of the very first applicants to Ling’s newly established Institute for the Training of Gymnastic Instructors in Stockholm. History doesn’t record precisely what Hugh did with his new found skills, but I’m fairly certain that Theo’s willingness to allow Hugh to practice on him was not entirely selfless.
Excerpt from A Minor Inconvenience:
Throwing pride to the wind, Hugh took Theo’s offered arm on the slow, painful journey to his bedchamber. Theo swiftly undressed him, but it was very different from the previous night—this time his concentration appeared to be on how best to remove Hugh’s clothes rather than what lay beneath them. He instructed Hugh to lie upon his front on the bed while he lit the newly laid fire.
“The room will soon warm,” Theo said, closing the door to the bedchamber. “Now, have you heard of Medical Gymnastics?”
Hugh had not.
“When I was in Gothenberg with the Rifles, back in ’08, I almost went out of my head with boredom for they would not let the men disembark for two months, which kept the officers also confined to the ship. I did, however, slip ashore just often enough to preserve my sanity, and I met a very accommodating young gentleman who taught me much about the human body.”
“Did you indeed?” Hugh muttered into the counterpane beneath him. If he sounded sulky, that was because his leg hurt like blazes and not because of the existence of an accommodating young Swedish gentleman.
“I did,” Theo said, and the smile in his voice came through loud and clear. “Among the things I learned was how certain procedures can relieve pain.”
Hugh turned to look at Theo and found he was picking up a bottle from a small collection of such items on the dressing table. “I may have refined the technique a little,” he explained, as he came over to the bed. “I find the judicious application of oil makes everything so much easier. Head down again, Hugh, and try to relax.”
Duty, honor, propriety…all fall in the face of love.
Captain Hugh Fanshawe returned from the Peninsular War with a leg that no longer works properly, thanks to a French musket ball. Now his fight against Napoleon is reduced to quiet, lonely days compiling paperwork at Horse Guards headquarters.
His evenings are spent dutifully escorting his mother and sister to stifling social engagements, where his lameness renders him an object of pity and distaste. But his orderly, restricted life is thrown into sudden disarray with the arrival of Colonel Theo Lindsay.
Theo is everything Hugh is not—a man of physical perfection and easy yet distinguished address. Surprisingly to Hugh, Theo appears to be interested in making his acquaintance. Lindsay turns out to be a most convivial companion, and Hugh finds great pleasure in his company. Their friendship deepens when they become lovers.
In spite of himself, Hugh falls desperately in love. But when a French spy is suspected at Horse Guards, Hugh discovers nothing is as it seems…and the paper he shuffles from day to day could be the instrument of his lover’s death.
A Minor Inconvenience is published by Samhain Publishing and is currently available with a 30% new release discount.