A Gift of Oranges
In Her Very Major Christmas, the Joslin family's neighbor, the Squire, brings oranges to the ladies as a gift. They're excited to receive these treats—and in fact, the ladies believe that the citrus fruit might indicate some romantic interest on the part of their botanically-inclined gentleman friend.
But which lady has caught his interest? Rosalind, now living with her relatives by marriage because she had nowhere else to go after her reckless husband died, believes the Squire is holding a torch for the beautiful but faded Aunt Clementine. However, it will take some effort to get crotchety old Sir Silas to agree!
Why would the Squire give a gift of oranges? Well, they're out of season, of course – in the bleak midwinter, exotic tropical fruits were rare. The Squire is something of a botanical enthusiast, so he's built an orangery.
An orangery is a building especially designed for the cultivation of oranges, lemons and other exotic tropical plants. Introduced in the 17th century, orangeries became very popular in the 1800s. An orangery has south-facing glass windows to capture the maximum sunlight and a thick northern wall to protect against wind and cold. In the wintertime, straw could be used for insulation.
In London, an orangery or greenhouse might be so elegantly appointed – like Queen Anne's beautiful orangery in Kensington Palace, which today is a lovely restaurant – that it could be used for fashionable entertaining away from the Court.
However, by the Regency era, many fashionable residences had orangeries or greenhouses. Orangeries were generally built with large, tall windows facing south to take advantage of the maximum possible light. The north facing walls would be built without windows in a very heavy solid brick, or occasionally with much smaller windows to be able to keep the rooms warm. Straw was the main material used for insulation. Some of the buildings could be intended as symbols of prestige, while others, like the Squire's more modest structure, were places to store tender plants like orange and lemon trees in tubs so that they would survive the harsh winter weather.
Rosalind's main interest in the oranges is what she can make with them! Oranges were made into marmelades, the rinds were candied and used in fruit cakes and Christmas pudding, and the juice used in orange shrub, orgeat (a sweet syrup flavored with orange and almond) and mulled wines.
Do you make a special holiday dish using oranges or lemons? Please share your traditions with us!
Her Very Major Christmas
By Saralee Etter
It was a devilish way to be welcomed into the family.
The dark-haired woman had crept into the library, taken one look at him then screamed and fainted dead away. He’d lunged toward her, hoping to catch her before she crumpled to the floor. He didn’t quite reach her in time.
Women had screamed at the sight of his scarred face before but usually not until they’d gotten a better look at him. Guiltily aware that her unconscious condition was his fault, he gathered her up into his arms, meaning to place her on the sofa at the far end of the room. If he moved fast enough he could put her down before his marked visage caused her to faint again. She was a soft, sturdy little thing with a pale face and dark hair that spilled over his arm.
He only had time to carry her halfway to the sofa before he heard a furious pounding of feet on the floorboards outside the library. The door to the library burst open. Through the door came an elderly lady, followed by an old man with a pair of dueling pistols, one in each hand.
“Unhand that female! Get back, you fiend!” the old man shouted, waving the pistols.
Burdened by the woman in his arms, the major froze as one of the weapons dipped dangerously in his direction.
The gun went off with a roar.
A pistol ball whistled past his head and lodged in the wall near the window. The lady shrieked.
The old man looked astonished, turning the pistol around so he could squint down the smoking barrel. “By Jove, I didn't even touch the blasted trigger.”
Blush sensuality level: This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).
Widowed Rosalind Joslin is an extra female in her in-laws’ household. Longing to prove she still has value, she uses her skills to make remedies and medicinal preparations for the poor. She misses the warmth and sun of India where she was raised but looks forward to her first real English Christmas with holly and the traditional feast.
Major Harry Joslin never expected his cousin’s death to thrust him into the unwanted role of nobleman. Still recovering from the emotional and physical injuries inflicted at Waterloo, he’s not ready for the demands of a new position and his family’s pressure for him to marry a debutante. His cousin’s widow is just another complication.
But it’s the season of miracles and two wounded hearts may find love blooming in the depths of a snowy Christmas day.
A Blush traditional Regency romance from Ellora's Cave
Saralee Etter loves to read, and always knew that writing was the only career for her. What could be better than to think up stories all day long? As a constant day-dreamer, it seemed like the ideal occupation.
Sadly, however, she couldn’t see a way to make a living writing the romantic and exciting stories that filled her head. Instead, she wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs.
Now Saralee is beginning to share the stories that she has been dreaming about for so long. They’re mostly light-hearted and fun. As a devoted armchair time-traveler, she finds writing stories set during the English Regency period is the perfect way to enjoy history, romance, and delightful adventures all at once.