Cinderella wasn’t the only one who looked forward to a ball as a way to escape humdrum everyday existence.Kate Dolan writes about Regency masked balls During the Regency period, and really up until about 100 years ago, a ball provided the best opportunity to size up and meet members of the opposite sex. You could learn a lot about a potential partner after watching a few lively dances. Did he get out breath easily? Did she have anything interesting to say or did she just giggle a lot? Was the shapely figure real, or was there much readjusting of undergarments to put things back into place (and this could be a question for either sex, since men wore corsets and calf pads under their stockings) Dances at this point were choreographed partner routines similar to an American square dance. You had to pay attention and be in the right place at the right time doing the right step or you’d cause a collision. So you’d probably be able to judge your potential partner’s sense of humor or tendency to anger, too, because if he or she didn’t cause a problem during a dance, very likely someone else would, sooner or later.

A masked ball (masquerade or masque) gave dancers special license to speak to each other in a way they would not dare otherwise. A mask alone was not usually enough to hide identity, so a costume was needed as well. Often this was a simple “domino,” just a dark loose cloak, sometimes with a hood. Masquerades reached the height of popularity in the 18th Century and by the Regency period (and even by the time Frances Burney was writing near the end of the 18th Century), the masked balls had started to develop an unsavory reputation. This was not helped by the fact the annual Cyprian’s Ball (hosted by courtesans) was a masked event.

Since there was so much emphasis on entertainment during the Christmas season in the Regency period, balls were frequent and festive. A Christmas ball is the starting point of the heroine’s dilemma in the next Cotillion Traditional Regency Christmas story, Lydia’s Christmas Charade by Saralee Etter. Her engagement is just about to be announced at a Christmas ball when she learns that her intended husband is in love with someone else. Lydia's Christmas Charade

So what does the poor girl do? You’ll have to read it to find out! This is the fourth book in this year’s series of Regency Christmas stories and the final one to be released in the first print anthology, Cotillion Christmas Traditions. There are four more stories coming this month, and more Christmas traditions to explore.

You can learn more about Saralee’s story by clicking on the cover. Or visit her website or check out her new blog,

Saralee Etter

Saralee Etter

Q. Tell us a little about yourself, Saralee:

A. I love to read, and always knew that writing was the only career for me. What could be better than to think up stories all day long? I day-dreamed constantly, so it seemed ideal.

Sadly, however, I couldn’t see a way to make a living writing the romantic and exciting stories that filled my head. Instead, I wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs.

Now I’m beginning to share the stories that I’ve been dreaming about for so long. They’re mostly light-hearted and fun.  I’m an armchair time-traveler, so writing stories set during the English Regency period is the perfect way to enjoy history, romance, and delightful adventures all at once.

Q. All that couldn’t have happened overnight. How long did it take you to get published?

A. About 5 years from the time I began writing my first novel. As I mentioned above, I’d been writing newspaper articles and other non-fiction material, but that kind of writing is very different to writing a novel! I had to learn a whole new skill-set.

My first novelistic attempt was a sprawling historical romance/comedy/adventure/spy/mystery/thriller I called “Death in a Powdered Wig.” The entire 128,000-word epic now lives in a three-ring binder on a shelf in the basement – where it will stay.

I wrote one other complete novel before Cerridwen Press (now Blush) published my traditional Regency romance, A Limited Engagement, in 2007. When you read Lydia’s Christmas Charade, you will meet Anthony Moore, one of the characters from that book. I liked young Anthony so much that I really wanted to tell his story, too.

Q. I’d like to know more about what lurks in the powdered wig! But beyond writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?

A. I’m an avid reader, always with my nose in a book. I prefer to feel the weight of a book in my hand, but I also read a lot on my computer or phone (no ebook reader yet, but hope to get one soon). I enjoy making things with my hands – sewing, making beaded jewelry, and crocheting. I’m learning to knit.

Cooking is another fun activity.  I love looking at recipes! There’s something so wonderful about beautiful food in lovely settings. Luckily, I live right near a family-owned you-pick vegetable farm as well as a large orchard, so I’ve got access to plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables.

Thank you Saralee for sharing a little bit about yourself with us. Lydia’s Christmas Charade promises to be an engaging read! You can catch up with Saralee on Facebook: or on Twitter: