Grace Burrowes, NYT Bestseller

Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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Hi Grace and Sharon! Wonderful post as usual, Grace. I’m playing catch up on the Lonely Lords series, but have read the Windham series and the MacGregor series a couple times (yes the whole series – I feel compelled to reread when I get the most recent book 🙂 ) I am loving how the Windham books and the few Lonely Lords books that I’ve read work so well together. You get to see what was going on ‘off page’ in another book. I’m also jumping for joy inside because I just downloaded “Worth: Lord of Reckoning”. I do have to finish “Douglass” first….

I don’t have a favorite term. But I will say I have always disliked the term Chit. It grates on my modern girl nerves. 🙂

Sharlene Wegner

I like the use of the words cravat & breeches. You don’t hear those words these days.

Kathleen Bittner Roth

Wonderful post, Grace. Thanks for sharing. I love the English language. Even at a young age, I would read the dictionary when there was nothing else in the house to read! English was my late husband’s second language (he spoke six). He learned Oxford English in school, and was so precise as to how he used the language because he considered it a gift not to be taken lightly. To be able to communicate with others on their level, whatever that level, was something he took great pride in (that might sound haughty, but in fact, he felt humbled). Now I live in Budapest, Hungary after having lived in Croatia for four years. I have come to deeply respect any spoken language, and yes, when I write, a dictionary and etymology browser are always open!

Janie McGaugh

I’ve loved the Oxford English Dictionary ever since I became aware of its existence when I was a teenager. Some of my favorite sayings from that era are the various slang terms used to refer to inebriation and to ladies of ill repute; I think that’s a holdover from my Georgette Heyer days.

Molly R. Moody

I’ve been a fan since I read The Soldier then had to backtrack and read The Heir, since then I read them all in order, except for Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait. I have st to finish it because I keep losing it, that’s what comes of having home full of books. The only problem now is having to wait for the print version of her latest book. I think the term that I find most amusing is when the hero talks about his “John Thomas”, I tend to laugh when I read that. I’m a little confused by the term “jumps”, I realize that is, or so it seems, a type of corset, or stays, but I still don’t understand it fully. I tried doing a Google search for a definition but all it brought up was things related to ice skating and gymnastics.

Grace Burrowes

Molly, I got to wondering how Regency women with a baby at the breast dealt with back-lacing corsets. That kid, if colicky, could be noshing sixteen times a day. Turns out from the early Georgian period forward, there was a form of corset that laced up the front. The term “jumps” is an English corruption of the French “jupe” and refers to a front lacing (or buttoning) garment for supporting a lady’s attributes. When the hero and heroine are in close quarters and intent on getting closer, jumps are an easier option for the couple to undo than back lacing stays (and said to be more comfortable, because they lacked (much) stiff boning). This article might be helpful:,


Wow, what a great article! If I weren’t moving you to the top of my TBR list becayse your books sound wonderful I would be moving them because I am a fellow Penn Stater! Go Lions!

As far as Regency terms I dislike, I have to say “ain’t” really bothers me (is that used legitimately in Regency novels?), mostly because it sounds so bad in current conversation. I also wonder how much contractions were used, as I suspect they weren’t encouraged in written communication.

I’d like to echo the thoughts above, that I LOVE authors who make the effort to ensure their novels are as historically accurate as possible. And, I could easily get lost in a dictionary too! I’ve got my library card in hand….

Grace Burrowes

There are something like 250,000 Penn State alumni in the Alumni Association, and they are statistically, the most supportive of their alma mater of any major university (in terms of $$$ and visits). That’s particularly cheering in light of the school’s difficulties last year.

I agree with you about “ain’t.” It might have been cool back in the day, but our associations with it mean I reserve ain’t for the secondary characters who aren’t too likeable. Sometimes, it sounds OK with the old folks who used it freely in the Georgian period, but mostly…. nah. It ain’t fittin’, as Mamie from Gone With The Wind would say.

Barbara Elness

When I was a child my mother had a huge dictionary full of illustrations, and it was my favorite pastime to browse around and find all sorts of interesting words and information in it. I love Regency stories, but I must confess I can’t think of any phrases I particularly like or dislike, it’s all interesting to me. I do notice when phrases are used that don’t seem to fit the period and I appreciate all the research a good author does to make their story historically accurate.

Grace Burrowes

Barbara, we kept a Webster’s Collegiate in the bathroom. I have at least four books my bathroom now, and a veritable quilt of them up on my bed. An interesting book is a true friend.


We have a friend who always has so many books on his bed that he’s teased that instead of changing his sheets, he turns a page on each book.
We have a number of giant dictionaries, but I’m glad to know of the online OED.
When my son was two, I once found him sitting on our giant Webster’s in just a diaper. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was memorizing the difference between the American and British number systems. Not only had I not known he could read but I had no idea there WAS such a difference!
Books open up so many worlds and new horizons.


Following Grace’s blog appearances and reading her very own blog is as much fun and informative as reading her books. Grace, you slay me, and that is certainly not a regency nor victorian term… just a “yankee” term that means, you rock!

As for the different historicals, I must admit to pure ignorance when I first started reading them. At first I was like, why powdered wigs in this story but there doesnt seem to be any in this one. Why this type of dress but now the bosoms are not pronounced in this one. THEN I realized, wait, there are era’s and dress codes and changes in language.

Only took me about a year before I realized I wanted to know more about the books I was reading. I usually had to look things up manually in a library when I first started…then the computer made it even easier. I loved the different times and started trying to choose favorites but it became a non issue. It was authors I wanted, no matter what time period.

I have to say, as far as language, since we are reading romance, I was always surprised by the different intimate names…for body parts, for adoration, for intimacies….shocked at first when I read the “c” word for that male thing and then after a while, humored by the different names ….

I LOVED Trenton a great great deal. I found it rather a healing book on all accounts. No need to enter me in the contest but thanks for yet another interesting and thought provoking blog post.

Grace Burrowes

The plethora of terms for certain body parts boggle the brainbox, as does the number of terms for money. Worth Kettering has occasion to remark on this… Or, he will, when his book comes out.

I agree with you, Hope. I tend to read authors, not periods, so when Jennifer Ashley started Scottish Victorians, to Victorian Scotland, I did go. Same with Eloisa James–she can write Georgian, Regency, or a Paris memoir, and I’m there.

Michelle K

What a fascinating topic. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and responses too. I am a reader who is definitely pulled out of the story if I run across glaring anachronisms, so I SO appreciate the work that you do to write correctly for the time period while walking the line of not confusing your readers. And you do a great job of it! I love your books.

Grace Burrowes

Thanks, MIchelle. I’m sure somebody’s working on a program, one that allows you to set the year–1818, for example–and the program will highlight all the anachronistic words, and link to a historical thesaurus. I’m sure every historical romance author would pay dearly for such genius. Until that day, we’re stuck with what “sounds” wrong, or what our readers point to us.

Mary T

I’m just so grateful that you make the effort Grace! I love historical romance and I read A LOT of these books. To me the most important thing in a book is a good love story that is well written, with characters that I can care about. I will let a lot “slide” if it meets those qualifications.

I’m no historian or language expert, but there are some books that are riddled with historical errors or use language that can only be described as modern slang. If there is enough of it – I will put the book down.

Needless to say, you don’t fall into that category. I love your stuff!

Maria Almaguer

Wonderful, fascinating post! I’m a librarian and often use the OED print and online edition with patrons. I find it interesting that you not only try to use words but historical meanings as well in your writing. That is why they are so authentic and beautiful to read. I have to say I enjoy the slang phrases such as “bloody hell,” “jingle brains” or “bollocks” as they often make me laugh out loud. Let me just finish up by telling you how very much I am enjoying your Lonely Lords series. Brilliant concept and wonderful stories about honorable and sexy heroes. Darius, Gareth, and Douglas are my favorites (so far). I’m now up to David.

Grace Burrowes

Maria, those are my earliest complete manuscripts (along with Andrew). I consider Gareth my “foundation hero,” the first guy to tell me his entire story, fortunately, he came with family, and the family came with family, and the family came with friends… I’ve often been asked to do a chronology, but I’d have to go back and re-read everybody first. I’m too busy writing…


Can’t answer the question. I did enjoy the interview with Grace Burrowes. Had no idea she had written so many romance novels. Each one looks good.

Grace Burrowes

Tea, I’ve always enjoyed writing, and spent several years scribbling away for the fun of it before I got tired of friends and family asking if I’d ever try for publication. That back log of completed manuscripts has come in handy now, though it left my editor with quite a puzzle as to where to start with me.

Ella Quinn

I also write with my on-line OED open. Congratulations on your latest release!! Trenton is a wonderful book!! No need to enter me in the contest, I’ve already read it! Tweeted and shared on FB.

Grace Burrowes

Thanks, Ella, for the tweet, the drive by, AND the compliment. Let me know when you’ll be Sharon’s guest!

Livia Quinn

I never thought I’d agree with Sharon and say an author was too prolific, but then I never thought I’d fall behind on Grace’s books either. Just means when I get caught up and have a few days to read, I can have a Lonely Lords orgy.

My computer came with OED which is always open when I’m working, but I’m thrilled to have the online links to OED and Grose’s.

Grace Burrowes

Livia, I’m not prolific, particularly. I just hoarded up manuscripts for a few years before attempting publication. Things will slow down next year–they had better, or my house will fall down.

Stephanie L

I’m an incredible word nerd…so reading that I can use my library card to access the OED is verrrryyyy dangerous. I can DEFINITELY get sucked down the rabbit hole very quickly. I have to agree with Anji that “casting up accounts” perturbs me, “bit of muslin” is another.

I will confess I’ve never read any of your books, but I will definitely look them up promptly. Any particular place I should start? =D

Thanks for this post, I absolutely enjoyed it.

Grace Burrowes

Stephanie, it’s hard to say where to start, but I’m very fond of Douglas’s book. He has a foot in each of two series–the Windham Family series and the Lonely Lords. The Windhams are earlier work, but most readers enjoy the continuity. The Lonelys are on only loosely connected, and the Windhams have secondary roles in many of them.

Grace Burrowes

I’ll start with the last question first, Sharon, because I know it’s one that plagues every historical author whose stories are set in the early modern era. The object of my game as a story teller is to keep the reader in the story. I’m NOT a historian, and I’m not writing historical fiction. Then too, nobody is certain in every detail what was going on with the spoken word 200 years ago, particularly when much of the population was rurally isolated and illiterate. We know the written sources usually lag the spoken word, but do they lag by fifty years? Ten years?
All of that said, I make a good faith effort to avoid anachronisms, though my modern ear won’t catch them all–nobody’s will. And yes, sometimes, I’ll use words knowing they’re historically wrong. An example: The appropriate word for what we call a child’s diaper would have been “clout.” Diaper, in the Regency, referred to a particular brocade-like cloth, not something to keep a baby tidy.
Clout smacks of loincloths to modern readers, so I went with the word nappy. 95 percent of my readers are American, and to them nappy is both British and old-fashioned. Some Brits think the word originated in the US (it did not), and others are aware that term dates from only the 1920s. Not one reader wrote to call me on the repeated use of this modern word in Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish, but several complimented me on getting it “British.” Er, um, well. I bent the rules in the right direction in this instance for most readers, apparently, but I’m sure there were a few purists out there wincing or even tossing the book.
I do not rely on my copy editor to vet my word choices, but she usually catches a few that flew right by me. I’m sure the knowledgeable reader is catching even more.


I read a history novel once where they used contemporary American terms and it was quite off putting. The word I like most in regency novels is “indeed”. It seems to me an all around word with different meanings and just by the way of saying it, it can tell you moods as well. Thank you, Grace, for clearing up for me, where your knowledge of regency English comes from. I thought, you would have to dig yourself through tons of letters and other written material to get a feel of how people would have talked in that time.

Grace Burrowes

Manuela, you do dig through tons of material, though it’s more like Scrooge McDuck, frolicking in his money bin. Right now I’m reading Robert Burns: A Lfe In Letters, Mark Twain’s autobiography, Country Life Lost… there’s no end of the excellent source material an author can enjoy. I also think people write differently with a quill pen. We know the difference between typing on a keyboard and writing with pen and ink. Think of that difference–more thoughtful, more personal–and magnify it times ten, because a quill pen on stationery was not the easy endeavor we undertake with a ball point pen.


I have to admit that since I read what “toot” meant back then, I can never hear it today without grinning.

Grace Burrowes

As in Laura Kinsale’s “My Sweet Folly” set in Toot-above-the-Bache? Love that name!

Gretchen H

I love reading stories where the vocabulary matches the setting. If I ever read a Regency-set novel where the heroine shouts out “OMG!” I’ll probably need to burn the book. Lol

I’m curious about what part of PA you are from. I also graduated from Penn State. I met my husband there and ended up stuck in State College for 20 years! I did really love the UP campus, though. I’ve since moved a bit south where it doesn’t rain quite so much! (Though we didn’t make it out of the state!)

Grace Burrowes

Gretchen, I was born, raised and educated in State College. My dad taught in the university’s food science department, five of my brothers and sisters went to college there (big discount for faculty dependents). I love the place, but the university sort of used up all the cultural oxygen if you let it. Right outside town, there’s a very different Centre County, and that’s more home to me.


Language is fun. It’s also interesting to see how it changes throughout the ages. I remember reading the first act of Romeo and Juliet and how I didn’t understand the insults flying between the 2 clans at all without a dictionary. I can’t think of any specific phrase though since I didn’t remember it!

Grace Burrowes

I’ve seen some clips of Shakespearean dialogue rendered in the accent of the day, and it’s actually easier to understand, though you’d think the opposite. When lines are made to rhyme by conforming them to Elizabethan speech, more meanings come clear without that dictionary.

Anne Hoile

Terribly interesting to know the back story on the dialogue in regency stories. Thanks for having Ms. Burrowes, one of my absolute favorite authors.

Grace Burrowes

It’s tricky, Anne (a word that didn’t mean then what we use it for now), because not only were certain words not yet invented, other words (like tricky), weren’t available on the same terms the readers today would use them. Always a balance, between authenticity and the reading experience, and I seldom get it right for every reader in every scene.

alisha woods

I have read Grace’s Scottish romances, bit haven’t been able to read the single gentlemen’s name books. As it is early and I am sick can’t think of a turn of phrase right now

Anne Hoile

Lord above! You HAVE to get to the Lonely Lords series, starting with Darius, but keep a kleenex handy.

Grace Burrowes

I love those Scottish Victorians, Alisha. I read Jennifer Ashely’s MacKenzie series and was yanked into the world. My Christmas book this year adds to the series, and I don’t think it’s done with me.

Grace Burrowes

Thanks, Leslie! I don’t think of myself as a humorous writer, but sometimes, I’ll read over a manuscript that’s facing revisions and realize how even a self-possessed, well educated, wealthy young man–perhaps especially such an individual–finds humor empowering. As an author, if you can give a character a sense of humor, it’s more likely readers will stick with that character, same as in life.


I’ve not yet read Trenton, but have read all of your novels. You have a wonderfully, witty delivery that characterizes (does the OED have characterise?) your books. Thanks, Sharon, for hosting Ms. Burrows today!


I just checked and discovered an individual subscription to the OED online costs £215 plus VAT (if applicable). It apparently can be accessed free at most public libraries in the U.S., something I didn’t know. Thanks for the mention.

Grace Burrowes

JerryT, a subscription occasionally goes on sale, at least on this side of the Atlantic. I figure for a dollar a day (at its most expensive) it does more to improve my historical world building than any other dollar I can spend. Of course, trips to Merry Olde are the very best investment in that regard.


Thank you to Grace for such an interesting and informative post. I have not one but several comments to make!

Firstly, regarding Regency turns of phrase; I like the use of the word “directly” as in “straight away” – “I will close with the attorney directly” (Mr. Bingley in the P&P 1995 dramatisation). I’m not so keen on “casting up one’s accounts” probably as it refers to vomiting.

Secondly, thanks for the info about the OED. I just put my library card number into the log in box and it worked!! A new world of wordy goodness to explore.

Thirdly, Grose’s Dictionary can be downloaded for free and I now have it on my Kindle. Yet more wordy goodness.

Fourthly, I have to confess that I AM one of those Brits who has been getting somewhat annoyed at the use of “fall” in Regency-set novels written by US authors. Next time I see it (or hear it, as I’m a big audiobook fan) I’ll try muttering “OED, OED” to myself.

Fifthly, thank you to Sharon for introducing a new author to me. I haven’t come across Grace’s work before. My TBR List is getting so long that I’m going to have to retire so I can have more time for reading (I wish!).

Finally, (cos I’ve waffled on long enough), does anyone else think that the young man on the cover of “Trenton: Lord of Loss” looks like Aiden Turner? He’s played Kili the dwarf in The Hobbit films, John Mitchell the vampire in the original Being Human made in the UK and is set to play Ross Poldark in the remake of The Poldarks due out next year. He’s also rather gorgeous, don’t you think?

Grace Burrowes

Anji, now as we all dart off to google, we’ll make a frolic and detour to google “images of Aidan Turner.” No reason not to appreciate some excellent scenery. I think Trenton also look a LOT like the fellow on “Gareth” an earlier Lonely Lord. The Victorians sanitized a lot of excellent Regency vocabulary, but more significantly, it wasn’t until they got hold of the language (or their elocution instructors did), that what Americans think of as the English accent became pronounced, though THAT is a Victorian contribution of which I heartily approve!


Thank you for a wonderfully entertaining passage Grace! Reading so many books I have certainly come to appreciate authors that take the time to do extensive research, which makes my reading experience richer.
I already have two of your books on my kindle patiently waiting to be read and the list below looks very tempting 🙂


The list of books above 😉

Grace Burrowes

Vee, for me the language research is purely fun, but no matter how much of it you do, there are words that slip through the cracks. My copy editor just flagged “billy-goat” for me. Victorian, not Regency! “Legendarily” even more recent! I always wonder, if they didn’t have billy goat, what did they use? And down the rabbit hole, I do do!

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