Lavender is one of my favorite flowers. I love the color, the look of the flowers, and of course, the smell of lavender has the power to soothe us to sleep with little trouble. Since the days of the ancient Egyptians, lavender has been used for medicinal and helful purposes. It was also a “miracle plant” during the Middle Ages. So there is little wonder that I used lavender extensively in my medieval novel Time Enough to Love.
The scent of lavender has been associated with medicinal uses for centuries. The ancient Romans used it in their baths, the Middle Ages saw it used to help ward off plague, and our culture uses it today in a variety of ways, but especially. I’ve noticed, in laundry detergents and fabric softeners. In fact, I must confess that I use a lavender/sweet cotton scented fabric softener for my laundry.
Early on in Time Enough to Love, the hero, Sir Geoffrey Longford, remarks on the scent of lavender that surrounds the heroine, Lady Alyse de Courcy:
He reached out to capture a tendril of her hair. Rubbing his face against it, he inhaled deeply. “You smell so sweetly. ’Tis like flowers in summertime all about you. Even your hair smells like the meadows near my home.”
Alyse smiled at that, her breath coming more normally. “’Tis lavender, my lord. My mother has it cut in our fields, and dries it to make sachets to keep the clothes and linens fresh. She says it gives us good health.” With a shy glance at him she continued, “I do bathe in it too, for it calms and soothes the soul.” She gave a rueful chuckle. “I fear I will require such a bath when I return to my room.”
I wanted to have this olfactory marker for Alyse so I could play with its use in several ways throughout the course of the novel. Not only does Alyse have this scent clinging to her, but she gives Geoffrey a token, a small bag with a lock of her hair in it. The bag smells of lavender because it’s made of part of an old gown of hers that’s permeated with the scent. I also have Geoffrey send Alyse a sprig of lavender as a token of remembrance.
One thing I was excited to discover is that lavender is also used as an insect repellent. Its use as a sachet tucked into linens and clothing helps repel fleas, the major carrier of the Bubonic plague. So the fact that Alyse and Geoffrey have so much contact with lavender explains why they are protected, to an extent, from the plague. To highlight this, I made lavender sachets and gave them out as swag at this year’s Romance Writers of America National Conference. I hope it gave everyone sweet dreams.
Jenna is giving away an ecopy of TIME ENOUGH TO LOVE to one (1) lucky commenter. What’s your favorite flower?
When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.
From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.
As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers. Her debut novel, Only Scandal Will Do, is the first in her House of Pleasure series, set in Georgian London. Her medieval novel, Time Enough to Love, is a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, set at the time of the Black Death.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.