Courting Constance Study Guide
my “kitchen sink” book. If you can’t find any courting ideas to use,
it has not been for my lack effort. And while I might be
paying homage to both Austen and Heyer in this book, you should know
that my poor husband had the “benefit” of being the recipient of
some form of almost every courting idea in this book (with better
results). Although most were done to him after our marriage,
looking back at the gifts, poetry and serenades (by a harmonica and
tuba player etc.) while we were dating, I see what a brave man he
was to still take me on.
1. What battles have you won by not fighting?
2. What items do you have of sentimental value? How would it feel to
have them stolen?
3. Should an engagement gift be given back even if it is not the law
of the time? Why or why not?
4. What are the results of seeking revenge?
Extra from the author—The biggest criticism I heard from my first
book was that it had too slow a start. Every book I’ve written since
then has started with a “bang,” although admittedly six pages to get
to a big event might still be too slow. (I’m working on it!)
Constance had to be both a sequel (keeping characters and situations
from A Sensible Match) and a “stand alone.” That is why there
is some mention of the back story (first book), but not, I hope, too
much to bore the reader.
to read about some different types of Regency vehicles. I had to
make them ride a town coach in order to have a hard top and windows
in the back (you’ll see why later).
Plot point: When
I mention Harriet’s headache induced by the trip and Constance’s
endurance of the physical nature of the journey, it is because
travel in Regency times really was no picnic.
John 6:27-29; 1 Timothy 2:9
1. How do street and landmark names impact the expectations and
destiny of a town?
2. Do you have to live happy to die happy? Explain.
3. What difference does it make to choose to make your faith private
4. Do you agree that a woman should been known for her good deeds
rather than what she wears? How does our society feel about this?
cents—No, I’ve not tried the waters at Bath. But other references
from those who had and the fact that the mineral spring had been
lead lined centuries ago gave me enough to “pick on” the taste.
Fun: Pictures of Bath are to be found at
Plot point: There
was a fascinating spiritual movement in Regency times that focused
on “dying happy.” The main gist was that since Christians were going
to heaven, they should be showing great joy as they entered. Many
accounts are given of people, especially children, singing hymns and
dying peacefully which greatly encouraged those who witnessed this
display of faith. Try Mrs. Hunter’s Happy Death to learn
Bible verses: 1
1. How do you feel about Constance courting Sir Geoffrey? Should
only the guy do the courting? Why or why not?
2. Have you ever had someone misunderstand you and do what you
didn’t ask them to do? What were the results?
Extra from the author—Okay, you already know I creatively courted my
future husband and then kept courting after we were married. What I
need to emphasize now though is that I am not advocating stalking or
behaving like what some today call a “groupie” or “creeper.” You
will find many references throughout the book that if Sir Geoffrey
had asked Constance to stop, she would have had to do so. Creative
courtship is for willing recipients and ideally should be
done by both sides. Imagine if we took the concept further and we
tried to love God and to pursue Him as much as He does us.
chapter was a chance to “show off” some research whether in the
names of streets or the mention of the Gorgon head found near the
Pump Room when it was being built in 1790. To get a better sense of
this wonderful city, check out A History of Bath: Image and
Reality by Graham Davis and Penny Bonsall. A picture of the
Gorgon head is on page 9 and an old map of the city is on page 288.
Bible verses: 1 Corinthians13:4-7
1. If your efforts at showing love fail, when and why do you
2. When do you expect a reward or praise for doing something for
someone else? How can you keep from expecting a return on your good
3. Should Constance have felt guilty for doing a good deed? How do
her motives influence your answer?
Plot point—Now you know why I had to use a town coach (specifically
for this scene). I even had to “block out” this scene like a play or
movie in order to try to get the events and placement of characters
correct. Although the actual church on Paragon is not named and the
coach would have had to pass Sir Geoffrey’s house before the
piper played to “park”, I hope the description of events are still
clear and funny to the reader.
Fun: Regency terms and their definitions can be found at
ible verses: Luke 6:37-38, 41-42
1. Do you think Sir Geoffrey is being fair to Constance if he
doesn’t want her attention? Explain.
2. Why do we sometimes judge others more harshly than ourselves?
3. How would you describe yourself as a gem? Which gem is “you”?
Extra from the author—I think it is interesting to read about how
pearls are compared to heaven and are in the gates of heaven. I
wanted to reference them in my story since they are the only
treasure created by a living creature and revealed by its death.
There is some symbolic connection to Christianity for this.
This link will show some clothing and
can lead you to information about jewelry of the times. Just a note:
there were a lot of paste (fake) pearls made in France, because real
white pearls in this era were more valuable than many other gems.
14:28-30, 2 Corinthians 8:12, 9:6
1. What do you think of the adage “the way to a man’s hearts is
through his stomach”?
2. What advice would you give to Constance about her courtship?
3. Why do you think Geoffrey wants to “reward” Constance’s efforts?
How should he?
My 2 cents—Okay, so why black currants? I need to find a fruit that
was tart or slightly bitter, was used in both breads and preserves
in Regency England and could cause an allergy. I was trying to find
a comparable fruit to cranberries and black currants seem more
prevalent than red currants in the UK.
Fun: Want to try black currant preserves? Here is one website
with jars for sale:
Just remember black currant jelly is like our Jell-O, the
jam is the spreadable product.
1. What blessings are there to living in faith?
2. Why is Geoffrey upset about the message in the sermon? How do you
feel about the topic of earthly prosperity for following God?
3. How are actions like fruit?
the author—There is a current, “faith-lite” fad in some church
teachings that says God guarantees “good things to good people” and
that all you have to do is ask. Of course, if you look at history,
this is not a new idea. The danger of the above “do-good/feel good”
reward system (earn your salvation idea) is that when bad things
happen to good people that “must” mean they sinned and are being
judged accordingly which is not always the case. In other words, if
you don’t get what you’ve asked for from God that means you “must”
be bad. Anyway, the book of Job addresses these concepts much better
than I can. We may not know why bad things happen, but trust
God to be there when they do.
Galatians 5:22; Proverbs 16:28
1. How has gossip affected your relationships?
2. How do you counteract gossip?
3. Why is Marianne’s courting looked down upon by Constance? Is
Constance right to be upset—why or why not?
Plot points—I wanted to emphasize irony in this chapter. Sir
Geoffrey has a chance for revenge and doesn’t take it. Harriet, the
shy girl, is the center of attention at the dance. Constance sees
someone else court Geoffrey more persistently than she does and yet
Geoffrey starts showing an interest again in Constance.
characters’ dance “moves” are not strict Regency according to the
following website, but if the Pride and Prejudice movies can
take liberties, I felt I could as well. Here is the website to check
Luke 6:32-33, Romans 8:5, 12
1. Why is it hard for Constance to ask for help?
2. How many times should you fail before giving up? How do you know
when to persist?
3. When is it right to pass up an opportunity to help someone in
order to do something good for someone else?
Extra from the author—Bath attracted many destitute people during
this story’s time period which I felt deserved at least a passing
mention. These poor were not just seeking a cure, but begging alms
from the other wealthier visitors to the “medicinal waters.”
My 2 cents—I have
created and been through many creative ‘road rallies’ and ‘scavenger
hunts.’ While at the time I found no historical parallel to a
‘treasure hunt’ in the Regency era, it should be noted that people
had been hunting for Captain Kidd’s treasure for over a hundred
years, cartographers were still making maps of El Dorado and the
earliest treasure map found was a copper scroll from 50-100 AD among
the Dead Sea scrolls.
making up your own treasure hunt is too daunting, check out the
first lines of the treasure hunt instructions on the copper scroll.
Go to Wikipedia, type in “treasure map” and read the first section.
verses: Song of Songs 3:1-5
1. What do you think Geoffrey should do?
2. Why did Geoffrey choose to go on the hunt?
3. How should Constance treat Geoffrey now that she knows his
Extra from the Author—I owe my attention to some of the story’s
“sit-com” elements to the books Save the Cat and Comedy
Edition. Weaving details into a story
bringing them back later is a common visual and verbal ploy of
screenwriting. Reminding the reader of the earlier events of the
story such as Robert’s reference to the black coverings as “masks”
(like Geoffrey wore) is in part due to trying to crossover this
screenwriting technique. (Oh, another quick note—I fully intend to
have a complete clue hunt for Bath available sometime for readers to
try (bad poetry and pearly Bath bun provided), but I need to
actually visit Bath to make sure it works first.)
Fun: Try reading a Jane Austen inspired movie script such as Emma
Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility: Screenplay and Diaries. You
will get a whole new perspective on what you see on the screen.
1. What happens when your actions inadvertently hurt people that you
didn’t expect them to affect? What can/should you do?
2. Is Constance’s method of Bible verse “cherry picking” a good way
of listening to God? Why or why not? (“Cherry picking” means
plucking a verse or passage out of context for your own use in an
argument or decision.)
3. What does it mean to love others as Jesus does?
4. Did Constance
let the thief go for herself or for Geoffrey? Explain.
My 2 cents— My first romance novel was based on 1 Corinthians 13 and
the KJV original use of the word “charity” for “love.” Courting
Constance, however, is based on Jesus’ new commandment in John
13:34. I wanted to take two “half-hearted” Christians and see if
each could give up his/her “self” to love others not “as themselves”
Fun: Take a reluctant man shopping for (today’s equivalent of)
ribbons and lace in honor of Sir Geoffrey’s courage.
1. What is love? Is it an action, a feeling, or something else?
2. Would you give a gift even if the credit for it would go to
another? Why or why not? Why do we give gifts?
3. Do you think Geoffrey’s spill was an accident or not? Why?
My 2 cents—This is my opportunity to apologize for using Bath’s name
in so many different contexts. Yet how could I pass up the image of
baptism when these English waters were meant for ‘healing’?
Fun: I didn’t want to forget to include some reference to an image
of the Pump Room. Look at this to see how it looks today:
or, if you have high speed internet, try this:
1. Who is your confidante? Why has Constance switched from Harriet
2. How do you think Geoffrey should try to court Constance?
3. What would your advice to Constance be at this point of the
Plot point—Bringing more than one major character over into another
story is harder than you think. I had no trouble giving Constance
her own story and setting. Harriet had been a very minor character
so going to a new book was easy. Mrs. Alford was also quite easy to
bring to Bath because I kept her role limited. But the problem with
character crossover is that the strong voice of the once main
character has to remain the same in a sequel while no longer taking
center stage. I had to re-read what I had written for Abby
(Constance’s sister) several times to make sure she was consistent
in both books without distracting the reader’s attention from the
different style/emphasis of each book.
Fun: Get out some serial historical romances and compare recurring
characters’ words and actions in the different books. How did the
author make sure the characters stayed distinct and true? Did she/he
use catch phrases or quirks to keep you from getting character
confusion? How did those characters evolve throughout their “lives”
in the sequels?
James 4:1-3, 3:13-14
1. Can you lose even when you have the “high ground?” Why or why
2. How is
Constance like her mother? How does this connection explain their
relationship to each other?
3. Why do some families tend to repeat their actions each
4. Why does Constance think that she will get blamed for the
accident? Does “no good deed go unpunished?”
Extra from the author—What better romantic symbolism than a
battlefield? I just had to have some sort of runaway horses as a nod
to my love of westerns, but Constance is an expert rider. The
carriage possibility had been mentioned by Geoffrey in the first
chapter so…why not? Plus, I couldn’t resist joking about Geoffrey
riding to the rescue to pick on those other romance books that have
way too many perfectly timed coincidences. And in addition to
the delightful verbal battles, I loved that Constance (of the
perfect appearance) gets muddy and Geoffrey (of the perfect plan)
Fun: To give you more information about the battle referenced by the
characters, check out this:
Proverbs 15:1-4, 16:24-25
1. Have you ever heard something said that you were not meant to
hear? What happened next?
2. Have you ever heard only part of something said and assumed the
worst? What did
do about it?
3. Why did Robert help Constance?
My 2 cents— I know that most inspirational romances don’t have
characters that drink much—if at all. While not approving of the
amount Robert imbibed, I hope readers could enjoy why he might reach
for something in light of the unusual events for I so do like
him. Don’t you adore Barnes too? He and Harriet became more than
just props to me.
Fun: Okay, I won’t try it, but maybe you’d like a
recipe for eel pie. You can find it at
1. If you find out you were wrong about someone, how do you make
2. Why do you think Geoffrey proposed the way he did?
3. What would have happened if Constance accepted?
My 2 cents—I know this scene is reminiscent of a proposal in
Pride and Prejudice, yet really I also had to make it different
from the one in Georgette Heyer’s Arabella too. And while I
know that Regency purists might argue that the “marriage survival
kit” gift was unrealistic, I just hope that the slight liberties
taken are worth the story.
Fun: Oh the joy of googling “unusual marriage proposals!”
1. How did the dance complement the events that happened?
2. Why is there a tenuous connection to Midsummer Night’s Dream?
3. Why did Geoffrey forgive Robert more quickly than Constance?
My 2 cents—Although I looked forward to writing this scene for most
of the book, it was difficult to complete so that all the
characters’ previous words and actions were coordinated to make the
multiple confrontations believable.
Fun: Some 19th
century ballroom songs you can hear for free online are at the site:
(although most samples are dated later than my story).
1. What is the difference between being religious and being
2. How does our
faith tie into our human relationships?
3. Do you think it’s easier to trust or to love someone?
4. How has Harriet changed and evolved?
My 2 cents—Unfortunately I think people often tend to re-evaluate
their relationship with
only when their relationships with others have problems. Sometimes
it’s good to contemplate where we are with God in the good times
too. Constance “has issues” with trust and control, but she’s
working on them—as Methodists call it, she is “striving for
Fun: Why not come up with some creative ways to show love to
significant people in your life. Which is harder to do—come up with
ideas or act on them? Will you follow through on using your creative
ideas to show love? Now there’s the fun and scary
Romans 13:10, Hebrews 10:22-24
1. Why do you think that Robert had to visit Constance?
2. How did Constance’s father help her?
3. What was wrong with Constance’s newest plan?
Geoff right to help Robert even with an illegal duel? Explain.
Extra from the author—Duels were supposedly outlawed in Europe
during the 17th
century, but still common for if two gentlemen fought fairly they
were rarely arrested. Another little detail: several words such as
“kit” did exist back then. Even though I let quite a lot of modern
words into the novel, I did try to keep some authenticity—as much as
possible from an American author in the 21st
Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31
1. What does it mean to have ‘courting constance’? How many meanings
can you find in this book’s title?
2. How do you keep courting even after marriage?
3. What purpose did it serve to have a mutual marriage proposal?
Plot point—One of the last scenes is one I “owe” my daughter
royalties on. After painting Constance in a corner, I needed some
way to get this character out of trouble and my daughter helped with
one of the final ideas that ended up in the book.
Fun: My next
romance will be set in Scotland!