On December 1, 2022, Dreamstone Publishing will release our latest Christmas anthology, this one entitled A Regency Christmas Doubled, for it is all about twins. Double your pleasure! My tale, Bell, Book, and Wardrobe is one of the tales. In it, my hero and heroine arrange for his mother to have a special brooch made up with birthstones of family members. This is near the end of the book, but I thought would enjoy the scene for its “sweetness.”
The Egyptian culture has fascinated many. Gemstones are an integral part of Egyptian beliefs. The birthstones by month are based on rocs mounted into Aaron’s breastplate. The interpretation of the gems depends heavily on Ancient Egyptian writings and beliefs, as well as the Egyptian “Book of the Dead.” According to birthstone.guide, “It is believed there is a mystical and spiritual bond between the person born in that month and their birthstone. The owner of a jewelry piece set with a birthstone is impressed with the idea of possessing something more intimately associated with their personality then any other gem.”
“Most likely, the 1st mention of birthstones go back to the 1st and the 5th centuries A.D. Both Flavius Josephus and St Jerome declared a clear connection between the breastplate of the high priest and the 12 months of the year as well as the 12 zodiac signs. Josephus wrote that there were “twelve stones upon the Breastplate, extraordinary in largeness and beauty: and they were an ornament not to be purchased by men because of their immense value”.
“The breastplate of the high priest in Jewish tradition was treated with deepest respect, and gems set in it were believed to be emblematic of many things. Birthstone names in some cases aren’t identical to those given in the book of Exodus most likely due to different versions of translation from Hebrew and Greek. The original order in which the foundation stones are given in Revelation determine the order of birthstones starting from March – the month of spring Equinox.
“Despite the early mention of the birthstones, documented wearing of them as birth symbols or birth gems dates as late as the 16th century. The tradition originates from either Poland or Germany. It is also believed that Arabian astrologists may have originally brought the idea to Europe in the 15th century.
“The 12 foundation stones mentioned in the Revelation of St. John are directly associated with the 12 apostles. The assignment of each gem to the respective apostle happened at a later time, around the 8th century. Besides this, even later, we would see the 12 angels associated with the months and signs of zodiac. Guardian angels birthstones are also commonly called ‘talismanic gems’.
“As we already know, there were multiple birthstone by month lists circulating, and in an attempt to unify it in August 1912 in Kansas City the National Association of Jewelers agreed on the standard birthstone by birth month list, which has been revised in 2019 by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Great Britain uses a list of birthstones similar to the GIA one with some small changes.” (Birthstones by Months)
Back on August 18, 2022, author Heather Moll had a tweet up on Twitter about a Georgian piece of jewelry. It was a topaz and pearl cluster brooch, circa 1800, measuring approximately 2 x 2.2 cm. It caught my eye and became the inspiration for the brooch Ian and Galla present his mother at Christmas, only instead of all pearls, they place the birthstones of themselves, his twin and Lady and their children. The brooch plays a big part in the end of the story. Here is the image Heather shared on that day.
Bell, Book, and Wardrobe: A Georgian Romance
They may be able to disguise their appearance, but not the love in their hearts.
Miss Galla Casson wished with all her being her cousin Lady Helena Aldrete had consulted her before Helena ran off with a simple “Mr. Groton,” a country solicitor. However, Helena had not. Now, in desperation, Galla must pretend to be her cousin at a Christmas house party where Helena was to meet her intended, but just long enough for the Holy days to come to an end and for Galla to earn employment in London.
Colonel Ian Coates did not relish pretending to be his brother, Evan, the Earl of Claiborne, but in order to reclaim several precious heirlooms stolen from Evan in a savage attack, Ian practices his deception. The only problem is the woman who is to marry Evan’s assumed attacker is a woman Ian has previously presented a small piece of his heart.
Ian’s and Galla’s double deception threatens to overset their purpose in being at the same house party until a bell, a book, and a wardrobe lead them to a lifetime of singular devotion.
This excerpt is an endearing post from near the end of the story. Enjoy!
Galla sat beside Lady Alberta as honored guests in the Coates’s largest drawing room. Somehow, Lady Claiborne had managed gifts for all her guests, including an exquisite silk scarf for Galla and a similar one for Lady Alberta.
The jeweler had been excited to have a commission for Lady Claiborne, and he had delivered the pin into Ian’s hands after church services yesterday. The family had hosted a supper for some of the neighbors on both Thursday and Friday evenings of this week leading to Christmas. Lady Claiborne had spent extensive time with Galla for each, instructing her on arranging a table where people sat near those of like minds. “This will be especially important when Ian decides to place his name in for the Commons,” her ladyship explained. She allowed Galla to draft the menu for one of the meals, making only minor changes to Galla’s selections. Although Ian was not so happy about their waiting for the wedding, Galla had begun to see the logic behind the wait. Both she and Ian had much to learn.
At each of the suppers, Lady Claiborne had announced the upcoming marriages of her sons, and all in attendance appeared quite pleased. Lady Mathiesen was well satisfied to have both her daughter and niece recognized by Lady Claiborne and have each young lady interest several possible suitors among the gentry in attendance at the meals.
Now it was Christmas day, and the drawing room buzzed with excitement. Galla could not keep up with the packages being passed back and forth across the room.
Then Ian had cleared his throat for an announcement. “My brother believes I should propose to Miss Casson a second time so you might all stand as witness to my agreeing to abandon my bachelorhood.” He stood to kneel before her, and Galla knew both she and he blushed. “I shan’t say the words a second time, for they should remain private thoughts and promises between we two,” he said with a grin. “Yet, I willingly mark the occasion of your acceptance.” He slipped a ring onto her hand, one she had noted at the jewelers, thinking it perfect in its simplicity, but had never thought he had paid attention. “You were listening,” she said with a grin, as she hugged his neck.
“Not all the time,” Lady Kingsolver declared with a laugh. “No man listens to his wife all the time.”
Galla knew the woman likely correct, but she prayed Ian was different. “Your mother,” she whispered as he kissed Galla’s cheek.
Ian winked at her in that playful way of his, which she had come to adore. “Now, for the other woman in my life.” He stood briefly to kneel again before his mother. “Countess, Miss Casson and I thought we would begin a new tradition in the Coates family.” He took the jewel box from his pocket. Galla watched as the countess’s hands began to tremble and tears formed in her ladyship’s eyes. Ian opened the box to explain, “Miss Casson suggested the Countess of Claiborne should also possess a pin representing her role in the family. Father’s pin, the one Evan sports on his jacket was our father’s—the one you presented Martin Coates on your wedding night. Evan will present it to his heir and a new tradition will begin.” He glanced to Galla. “Miss Casson has designed a means to represent your most important role—that of ‘mother’ and mentor to me and that fellow on the other side of the room who some say resembles me.”
“The one who is your elder!” Claiborne called out.
“Fifteen minutes does not make you my elder,” Ian teased. Galla had heard them banter as such often over the last few days. Ian returned his attention to the countess. “I know it will not surprise you when I say, my future bride knows something of Egyptian history, of which I doubt many in the room, including me, was aware. I found the idea unique, just as are you, Mother. It seems the Egyptians associated certain jewels with particular months of the year. You, for example, were born in November, which is associated with a topaz. Therefore, such is the center stone.” He touched it with his finger as he described the brooch. “There are leaves around the stone, and they will carry other jewels. Evan and I were born in early June, which, again according to my lovely betrothed is controlled by Gemini, the sign for twins. Who would have thought it possible?” he said with an engaging smile.
Galla realized how he could be successful in the courtroom, and likely in the Commons, for her betrothed was a natural “talker.”
He continued, “In the Egyptian study of the stars, Evan and I are represented by a pair of goats.”
Lord Claiborne objected. “I am not certain I wish to be characterized as a ‘goat.’”
Galla spoke up in Ian’s defense. “If you prefer, in the Ottoman studies, it is a pair of peacocks.”
Ian laughed easily. “We will permit Claiborne to be the strutting peacock. Meanwhile, I will embrace the idea of being as ‘stubborn’ as a goat.” He turned to the pin his mother held in the palm of her right hand. “There is a small pearl for each of your sons.” Ian pointed them out before adding, “Although my lovely Miss Casson objected, I insisted the other two stones currently on the brooch indicate your two ‘daughters,’ especially as they will have some say over the remaining leaves on the pin. Lady Alberta was born in May and is represented by the emerald. Miss Casson is the sapphire. We thought the other leaves could be filled by each of your grandchildren.”
Her ladyship’s tears finally escaped as she hugged Ian’s neck. Galla knew he was a bit embarrassed by being the center of attention, but he permitted his mother a moment of sentimentality before saying, “Only God can predict how poorly arranged this pin may appear. It is likely to be quite gaudy.”
The countess overrode his comment. “I shall wear it proudly, even if it holds eleven different gems on the leaves.”
NOW ON PREORDER, A REGENCY CHRISTMAS DOUBLED IS ONLY $0.99 ON AMAZON. IT WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE TO READ ON KINDLE UNLIMITED WITH A RELEASE DATE OF DECEMBER 1, 2022.
GIVEAWAY: I HAVE 2 eBOOK COPIES OF “A REGENCY CHRISTMAS DOUBLED” TO SHARE WITH THOSE WHO COMMENT ON THE POST. THE WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED IN ADVANCE, BUT THE eBOOK WILL NOT BE DELIVERED UNTIL DECEMBER 1.