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Her Scandalous Affair

When I first began brainstorming the idea for Her Scandalous Affair, I once again found inspiration in my Collections. (I have lots of research materials in support of my various collections, and that always seems a natural place to look for ideas.) In the previous three books, a ladies’ magazine was a key element in the stories, and that idea had been inspired by my collection of ladies’ magazines from the Regency period. I also collect Georgian sentimental jewelry and thought it might be fun to incorporate a famous piece of jewelry, a love token, into the next book.

After much brainstorming and plotting, the jewel in the story came to bear little resemblance to the modest Georgian pieces I collect — I do not, unfortunately, have a museum-quality budget! — but it is certainly a precursor of the sentimental pieces in my collection. (Check out the articles on some of my sentimental pieces, so you can see what I mean.) I wanted the fictional jewel to be a family heirloom going back many generations, which would place it during the Elizabethan age.

One of the many inspirations for the Mallory Heart: a hat badge or brooch c1600, from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Note the heart-shaped ruby, crowned and pierced by two arrows. Take away the stylized archery target, make the ruby larger, and suspend it from a lover’s knot, and you will have my vision of the Mallory Heart.

So I studied Elizabethan jewelry, and even made several visits to the fabulous jewelry rooms in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I decided to model my fictional jewel in a style dripping in sentiment, a style that would appeal to the romantic nature of a young woman living in the early 19th century.

The Mallory Heart of Her Scandalous Affair is a large heart-shaped ruby suspended from a lover’s knot of diamonds. (The original title of the manuscript was The Lover’s Knot.) All of the sentimental devices incorporated into the brooch are typical of Elizabethan jewels. In fact, many of the devices we still associate with romantic love, and which can often be traced back to ancient times, first found widespread popularity in jewelry in the 16th century. The heart had long been used as a symbol of love. The crown on top of the heart symbolized loyalty. The piercing arrows represent Cupid’s arrows piercing the heart and causing the victim to fall passionately in love. The lover’s knot from which the Mallory Heart is suspended is another ancient symbol: two paths meet, cross, cross again, interweaving, just as the lives of two lovers become intertwined. (The Elizabethans often wore large, heavy chains with links made of lover’s knots.) And if all of that was not sentimental enough, I added an enamel ribbon around the heart with the message “Perfectus Amor Non Est Nisi Ad Unum,” which translates as, “True love knows but one.” (This was taken from the late 17th century book, Emblemata Amatorio: Emblems of Love in Four Languages, by Phillips Ayres.)

All of these elements of the fictional Mallory Heart are in keeping with the type of court jewelry that was produced during the 16th century. The perfect love token for a game of hearts

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