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Today I am delighted to welcome Sharon Lathan to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate her latest release, Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future. I hope you enjoy her guest post on the history of wedding cakes, an excerpt from her new novel, and a very generous giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you, Anna, for hosting me on your blog today. It is an honor to be here, and a great pleasure to share a bit of my research with your readers. Especially, of course, is my thrill in sharing my latest novel! Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future is the second book in the two-volume Darcy Saga Prequel Duo, which began with Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. These two novels perfectly fit with my Darcy Saga Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the series now including nine lengthy novels and one novella. That is a lot of happily ever after! Of course, a couple cannot have a happily ever after until they are married, and that means a ceremony and celebratory feast with a CAKE!

Wedding Cake Trivia

As everyone knows, the wedding cake is a vital necessity for a perfect wedding ceremony, on par with the wedding gown and flowers, and almost as important as the groom himself! A cake at the wedding feast, like the flowers, has been a central focus for centuries and in nearly every culture. Dating far into antiquity, it is the Romans who are credited with placing special significance onto a cake. Largely this is due to the symbolism of fertility, plenty, and health attached to various grains, from which also arises the custom of tossing rice and grain seeds onto the newly married couple.

As the Roman Empire spread across the then-know world, wedding cake traditions were adopted, including in England. With cake in mind, today I am sharing a handful of English wedding cake historical tidbits.

—Early wedding cakes were single tiered and small. Elaborate decorations were rare, the preference for simplicity, and cakes fit the regional traditions and superstitions.

Croquembouche Wedding Cake

—The first stacked cakes were of spiced buns and tiny cakes piled into a tower. An example is the Croquembouche, a French wedding cake created in the 1700s.

—Tiered cakes were impossible to manage beyond two levels due to the heaviness of flour and sugar before the ability to refine. Before 1870, any tiered cake contained upper “mock” tiers of spun sugar, not cake.

—The first recorded recipe specifically for a wedding dessert was in The Accomplisht Cook by Robert May in 1685. Called “Bride’s Pye” the recipe included oysters, pine kernels, cockscombs, lamb testicles, sweetbreads, and spices. Not exactly the wedding dessert we imagine!

—For a time, Bride’s Pies gained popularity in England. Pastry crusts were ornate and the meat fillings rich. A tradition was to hide a ring inside the pie, and the young lady who found the ring was fated to be the next married.

—A separate groom’s cake originated in England in the 17th century. Smaller, darker, and heavier than a bride’s cake, it was cut and given to the guests to take home. Tradition dictated the recipients place the cake under his or her pillow to pass the good luck by dreaming of future spouses.

—Sugar was readily available in England after 1650, but only in granulated form. Sugar could be “double refined” or ground by hand to create a smoother texture, but this increased the cost. True confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) did not exist until the late 1800s.

—White frosting of meringue and sugar first appeared in the 17th century. These early frostings needed to be heated in an oven to firm. Icing recipes recorded in the 1700s varied, but all required additional cooking to harden, were tricky to do right, and much more expensive. Having a white iced cake was an outward declaration of affluence.

—Hearkening to ancient traditions of tossing grains, in medieval and ancient England, the cake was broken over the bride’s head. This evolved to the bride cutting into the wedding cake and distributing to the guests, the belief being that her touch passed the happy blessing. As cakes increased in size, the groom was invited to “help” in the process.

—The tradition of sharing a slice of cake arose from the previous tradition. The bride would cut the first slice for the groom. He would eat a bite, then return the slice to his bride, who would then eat a bite. The gesture was a sign of their mutual commitment to provide for each other.

—Although a wedding cake was a firm tradition long before Queen Victoria, it was her famed white wedding cake with the spun-sugar figures atop (see image) that established the standard cake still most common today.

Anyone hungry yet? Ready to crash a wedding with me? The latter might be a tad improper, so perhaps it might be better to read my novel and attend the wedding of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.

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Excerpt from Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future, courtesy of Sharon Lathan

Between bites, Mrs. Bennet informed them, “While I was downstairs a message arrived from Mrs. Filiatreau. She reports that the florist in Derbyshire can send Jacob’s ladder blooms as you requested, Lizzy.”

“That is excellent news! They were plentiful in Derbyshire, including in the gardens at Pemberley. A beautiful flower with a lovely fragrance. They will blend well with the lavender and honeysuckle, in both fragrance and appearance, to create a fabulous bouquet.”

“Bluish-purple flowers, is that right?”

“Yes, Jane. I saw some that were bluer than purple, the hue varying. Hopefully, the ones Mrs. Filiatreau sends are blue.”

“To match the necklace Mr. Darcy gave you! Oh, it is divine. Can we see it again, Lizzy?”

Lizzy shook her head, Kitty immediately pouting. “Sorry, but I asked Papa to keep it locked in his desk. I cannot fathom its worth, even without taking the sentimental value into account. Frankly, having possession of such a necklace is a frightening responsibility.”

“Might as well get used to it. Imagine the jewels you will have as Mrs. Darcy.” Flipping from a pout to dreaminess, Kitty sighed. “I bet there are cases and cases of diamonds, rubies, emeralds—”

“Precisely why the wedding must be perfect,” Mrs. Bennet interrupted. “Two Bennet daughters marrying wealthy, respected gentlemen of Society. We shall be the talk of the county for ages!”

Jane met Lizzy’s eyes, the sisters sharing a tolerant smile. Their expressions were amused, a contrast to the contortions of dread and embarrassment perpetually worn during the initial weeks of their engagements. Harnessing their dramatic mother was a feat they had found impossible to do anyway.

Moreover, after discussing it privately, the brides-to-be had a revelation. The near-fatal disaster of Lydia’s actions resulted in a hasty wedding none of them had been informed of in time to attend, even if they had wanted to. Despite Mrs. Bennet’s brave face and boasting of Lydia being married to a gentleman officer, they saw her pain. She had been robbed of her honorable, rightful place as a mother, unable to participate in any way. Therefore, while a tendency to roll their eyes remained and they did from time to time need to pull on the reins, they had agreed to concur with whatever she wanted.

“The flowers are arranged for, even the yellow flowers you wanted, Jane. Roses should not be a problem, and Mrs. Filiatreau has connections that may have late-blooming dahlias or peonies.”

“Thank you, Mama. I am content with whatever she can manage. I am still amazed you talked Reverend Jenney into placing ribbons and flowers on the pews. He is a dear man, but a stickler for traditions.”

Mrs. Bennet looked slightly offended. “He understands what an important wedding this is! Besides, I can be very persuasive.”

“Mr. Darcy spoke to Mr. Jenney, requesting the inclusion as a personal favor.”

Lizzy’s teacup hit the saucer with a sharp clink. “He did? How do you know that, Mary?”

Mary flushed and dropped her eyes. “I was at the church when Mr. Darcy came in. I was in the back pew, praying, so do not think he saw me. I did not mean to overhear, but they were standing a half-dozen feet away!” Finally convinced that no one thought her an active eavesdropper, she explained, “Mr. Darcy specifically noted that allowing modest decoration inside the church was his request as a gift to Mrs. Bennet for her kindness. Is that not kind of him? I do not think he wanted you to know, Mama, so do not make a fuss over it. He does not like undue attention.”

Lizzy was unsure what shocked her more—Darcy’s thoughtfulness toward Mrs. Bennet, whom he pretended fondness for but Lizzy knew he barely tolerated, or Mary’s astute observations of Mr. Darcy’s character. Lizzy honestly could not recall Mary and Mr. Darcy speaking a single word to each other outside of the obligatory greetings.

As they enjoyed the repast, Mrs. Bennet prattled on, methodically enumerating upon the church decorations before moving on to the wedding cake and breakfast menu. They had heard the reports a dozen times, but what bride doesn’t adore discussing her upcoming wedding?

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About Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future (Darcy Saga Prequel Book #2)

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet will soon be joined in Holy Matrimony! The initial month of their Season of Courtship has passed. Together, the lovers strengthened their bond through honest communication, as they dealt with adversity, jealousy, and distrust. Ever growing in mutual love and understanding, a dramatic confrontation broke through the final barriers.  Now their Hope of the Future “happily ever after” is assured!  As long as Lady Catherine can be stopped in her scheme to interfere, that is. Or, will Mrs. Bennet’s bad advice ruin future marital felicity? Might increasing liberation lead to overwhelming passions that cannot be controlled, with catastrophe a result?  Continue the journey begun in Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. Delight in their flourishing romance, ride along on their escapades in London, and be a witness at the wedding of the century. The miraculous design of how Two Shall Become One begins before the sacred vows. Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future is Volume 2 of the “prequel duo” for Sharon Lathan’s Darcy Saga sequel series to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Purchasing links:

Amazon Kindle and Print

Barnes & Noble Nook and Print

Kobo digital

iBooks digital

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About the Author

Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her first novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, was published in 2009. Sharon’s series of “happily ever after” for the Darcys now totals nine full-length novels and one Christmas themed novella.

Darcy & Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship and Darcy & Elizabeth: Hope of the Future complete the “prequel to the sequel” duo recounting the betrothal months before the Darcy Saga began.

Sharon is a native Californian relocated in 2013 to the green hills of Kentucky, where she resides with her husband of over thirty years. Retired from a thirty-year profession as a registered nurse in Neonatal Intensive Care, Sharon is pursuing her dream as a full-time writer.

Sharon is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, JASNA Louisville, the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA, and serves as the website manager and on the board of the Louisville Romance Writers chapter of the RWA.

Sharon is the co-creator of Austen Authors, a group blog for authors of Austenesque literary fiction. Visit at:  www.AustenAuthors.net

Connect with Sharon via Website/blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Giveaway

Sharon is kindly offering 2 ebook copies of Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the wedding cake trivia or what most interests you about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, September 3, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Sharon, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Sharon Lathan, author of Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One (which I reviewed here) to Diary of an Eccentric. I appreciate that Sharon took time out of her busy schedule to answer a question I had about why she chose to add to the numerous Pride and Prejudice sequels out there.

Here’s what Sharon had to say:

Ignorance Is Bliss

All of us are familiar with the phrase and I bet could point to at least once in our life where the adage proved fortuitous for one reason or another. When Anna graciously invited me to be a guest blogger to promote my debut novel Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One and then requested I address what motivated me to write another Pride and Prejudice sequel — this common saying popped into my mind.

My journey down the long road of writing Jane Austen fan-fiction (JAFF) and then publishing is a tale all its own and can be read about on my website: The Darcy Saga. In a nutshell, and why the Thomas Gray quote applies to me, it was largely ignorance that started me on the blissful path of writing in the first place! I saw the 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden — loved it immensely — and while the visions of ‘what-happened-next’ swirled through my head (as they always do after a romantic movie) I did what everyone does these days: hit the Internet! Lo and behold, I discovered JAFF! I was fairly stoked, scouring through a couple websites looking for the romantic account of Lizzy and Darcy married that met my dreams. I quickly gave up — adding impatience to the ignorance, I suppose — and decided if it wasn’t out there, then I would just write it myself!

My whimsical lark ruled for over a year as the words flowed into chapter upon chapter, a saga of epic proportions evolving before I lifted my head above the water. So immersed was I in historical research, creative writing, and maintaining a website that I rarely expended my precious time trolling Austen websites or entering discussion forums. Gradually I became aware of the endless Austen-related debates, the plethora of websites, and the increasingly prolific Darcy-themed novels — but by then it was too late.

The bliss portion of the maxim had consumed me. My personal joy in living life with the Darcys and their friends was augmented substantially by the happiness expressed in constant feedback from my readers. As my ignorance waned and my bliss was challenged, the encouragement from my fans strengthened me to press on. But, to be honest, I did have to answer the valid question: What makes my story unique? Ignorant I may have been going in, but now I knew what I was up against.

So I looked at it subjectively and realized several facts —

1. My initial desire, what I had vainly searched for, had not altered. I offer the romantic, happy marriage that we dream of. Not just for ourselves, but for all our favorite literary/movie couples. I present a marriage as it should be; as maybe it could be if lovers devoted themselves to each other completely. Portray the ideal! Reach for the stars! Give Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth that perfect union that few ever attain, but we all wish we could. Having them actually triumph in marriage, talk to each other, overcome their difficulties, and grow to love each other more is, sadly, somewhat revolutionary nowadays.

2. My saga is about life as it would historically be lived in the early 1800s. I want my reader to be the fly-on-the-wall who shares in the joys, sorrows, entertainments, annoyances, humor, and daily happenings both mundane and extraordinary as life progresses. There are wild incidents, dramas and traumas, conflicts to be resolved, etc. But the focus is on how the characters deal with it, grow stronger, and move on.

3. I am largely inspired by the 2005 movie — and proud of it! I loved the passion, the highly romantic tones, the gritty realism, the characterization, the drama, and the actors. That is where the love of Austen was birthed for me, and my heart is still captured by Joe Wright’s masterpiece.

4. My story is fun and positive! Wouldn’t we rather laugh than cry? Don’t we want to be filled with hope? Isn’t humor, wild passion, and joyfulness a refreshing read now and again? Aren’t you read to devour a book that puts a smile on your face and tender feelings in your heart?

I hope I have answered Anna’s question sufficiently. I appreciate the opportunity to do so. And I pray I have inspired you to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One. That is just the beginning! More novels in my Darcy Saga series are forthcoming, all designed to warm the cockles of your heart.

Thanks, Sharon! I look forward to the next installment in the Darcy Saga, and I wish you much success.

Sourcebooks would like to offer a copy of Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One to one lucky reader. To enter: (1) Tell me what book or movie you wish would have a sequel. (2) Leave your e-mail address or blog URL so I can contact you if you win. Since the publisher is handling shipment, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, March 1, 2009. Good luck!

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sharon Lathan’s Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One picks up where Jane Austen left off in Pride and Prejudice. The book begins at the start of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s marriage. Lathan’s writing is beautiful, slowly unfolding the Darcy’s love story. From the nervousness of the wedding night to the making of a routine that would mark their days at Pemberley, Lathan captures it all in a voice that transports the reader to Regency England.

Lathan does a great job with the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy, staying true to the mannerisms and thoughts of Austen’s beloved couple. Elizabeth’s captivating personality and wit shines through, and it’s nice to see the transformed Darcy and his romantic, sentimental side. However, as the book went on, the endearments expressed by the newlyweds were a bit overwhelming. Here and there, a “darling” or “my love” is perfectly fine, but there were paragraphs in a single scene of the two expressing their love for one another. I think it slowed the narrative.

The only other problem I had with the book was the excessive number of sex scenes. They were beautifully written as far as such scenes go, and what transpires in each scene fits the portrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy. But it seemed as though 90 percent of the book took place in the bedroom, detailing almost every time the pair made love during the early days of their marriage. Given that they are newlyweds, I think the reader can figure it out for themselves that much of their free time will be spent in the bedroom. I loved when Darcy escorted Elizabeth to the Masque Ball, with all the talk about Darcy’s new bride and what happens when a certain guest is aggressive toward Elizabeth, and I wish the book had more scenes like that one.

Even though the only bit of tension in the book occurs toward the end, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One kept my attention throughout. Lathan’s addition to the numerous Pride and Prejudice sequels should stand out due to top-notch writing and an Austenesque voice. If you love Elizabeth and Darcy, you won’t want to miss this one.

Disclosure: I received Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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