Carina Guest: Carrie Lofty

Austria, 1804  
 
Eight years ago, composer Arie De Voss claimed his late mentor’s final symphony as his own and became an icon. But fame has a price: fear of discovery now poisons his attempts to compose a redemptive masterpiece. Until a new muse appears, intoxicating and inspiring him…  
 
Mathilda Heidel renounced her own musical gift to marry, seeking a quiet life to escape the shame surrounding her birth. Sudden widowhood finds her tempted by song once more. An unexpected introduction to her idol, Arie De Voss, renews Mathilda’s passion for the violin–and ignites a passion for the man himself.  
 
But when lust and lies reach a crescendo, Arie will be forced to choose: love or truth?
 

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Most historical romance readers will be familiar with the term “dowry.” In the European tradition, a dowry was a wedding gift provided to the groom or the groom’s family in order to secure the material future of the bride. If her husband died before she did, a woman was able to stave off poverty. This also gave rise to the term “dowager,” which indicates that a widow has had caused the access those dowry funds. 

Whether or not her husband or his family safeguarded the dowry for such an occasion is another matter entirely. Also, whether or not the bride deserved the dowry became a consideration. Some families insisted on waiting until the morning after the wedding before accepting a woman’s dowry and all the responsibility and connections that entailed. After all, if she proved less than virginal on her wedding night… 

In Austria, where my June 7 release from Carina Press, SONG OF SEDUCTION, is set, and in other Germanic countries, this process of waiting until the next morning became a common custom. They used the term “morgengabe” was used, the literal translation of which is “morning gift.”  

In the formal sense, a morgengabe was the culmination of the marriage contract. The engagement had been solidified by the posting of the banns. The vows have been said before a duly appointed religious official. And the wife had proven a virgin on her wedding night. All set! Commence with the handing over of funds and the happily ever after. 

In a less formal sense, however, a morgengabe took on personal significance for some couples. A husband might choose to give his new bride a token of his affection and respect upon claiming her purity as his prize. Necklaces, rings and other pieces of jewelry were often used for this purpose, as were parcels of land, livestock and household items. 

Arie de Voss, the hero of SONG OF SEDUCTION, was born and raised in the Netherlands, so he had a few questions on this topic. Here he’s asking the heroine, Mathilda, about a particular necklace she wears: 

“Who gave it to you?”

“You and your questions, sir,” Mathilda said. “My husband gave it to me. It is my Morgengabe.

Arie winced. Since his crass drunkenness at the Venner ball, he had been reluctant to revisit the topic of her late spouse. “Will you make me ask the meaning of yet another word?”

“No.” A faint smile curved her lips. “You must ask someone else, because I won’t explain it.”

The woman. Her mysteries. Those infernal glimpses she provided into her genuine character. Arie hoarded them all.

“Then who shall I ask?”

Mathilda leaned close enough to make her words heard. “You seem a resourceful enough man, Herr de Voss. You’ll think of something.”

What he does once he learns the significance of the morgengabe, however, is not the most graceful thing a hero has ever done. It’s a good thing he’s so cute and talented…

***

Born in California, raised in the Midwest, Carrie Lofty (http://carrielofty.com/) met her husband in England–the best souvenir! Since earning her master’s degree in history, she’s been devoted to raising their two precocious daughters, wrangling the talented authors of Unusual Historicals (http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com/), and writing romance. You can find her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/carrielofty), her Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carrie-Lofty/115375868486813), and her blog (http://lovelysalome.blogspot.com/).

“Historical romance needs more risk-takers like Lofty.” ~ Wendy the Super Librarian