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This first appeared when I visited Christine Warner’s blog in September.

5 Ways Colonial Puritans Got their Freak On

I don’t know about you, but I never considered Puritans to be the naughty type. Maybe it’s the way they tend to frown from those stodgy old sketches that populate text books, or perhaps it’s the reputation earned after they strung up their neighbors willy nilly during the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93. Or maybe I just can’t picture them gettin’ busy when they’re glaring at me from a few centuries back. (Y’all, now is NOT the time to google Cotton Mather, mkay?) But YOU GUYS, they totally got their freak on. Here are a few facts that’ll have you wishing you hadn’t clicked that link for ol’ Cotton (you did, didn’t you?), because you so don’t need that visual in your head for this.

The Wooden Plank for Birth Control

Young couples needed their parents’ blessings for courtship. This courtship often involved testing their compatibility by spending the night in the same bed (usually in the same room as the girl’s parents) with a board bundled between them. Interestingly, (and depending somewhat on who you ask) some 20-40% of these young ladies were knocked up before the big day. Now, I don’t know what they were going for with this compatibility test, but apparently the answer was all too frequently a resounding yes.

Covet Thy Neighbor

If a married woman had an affair, it was called adultery and was most often punished with death. Men who strayed to other women, however, were guilty of mere fornication. Their punishment for the very same act that could get a woman killed? A public lashing.  People knew this, and still they carried on like fiends. That, my friends, is dedication. (Or a lack thereof, as the case may be.)

Grounds for Divorce

Unsatisfying sex was grounds for divorce. So was a lack of sex. If you were impotent before the days of Viagra, you were screwed. (Or, rather, you were not so much screwed, but I digress.) Lest that seem unfair, women could also be accused of impotence. I’m not sure how that works, exactly, but good for them for thinking outside of the box.

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On…

Handfasting—something you will see in HER WICKED SIN—was a totally acceptable method of marrying. Basically, you shook on it. Anyone who’s ever dropped a few grand on a wedding can probably really get into this method, but men (sorry, guys, but it was usually the man) quickly figured out how to ruin it for the next few centuries. You saw this coming, right? “I will love you forever,” he says. Next morning, he’s hopping out the door on one leg trying to don his trousers with the other, never to be seen again. (Handfasting apparently worked better with witnesses.)

…But Not on Sundays

Pretty much everything was forbidden on Sundays, including travel, preparation of meals (they did this ahead on Saturday), work (not sure how the ministers got around this), and sex. Probably not the end of the world, but since many of them tended to believe babies were born on the same day of the week they were conceived, this little rule got quite a few good Puritans in a heap of trouble. Oftentimes those poor Sunday-born kids were even denied baptism, as many ministers were vehemently strict on this infraction. The Reverend Israel Loring was one such stalwart … until his wife delivered twins on a Sunday.

Now that you know Puritans aren’t quite as boring as we’ve all been led to believe, I hope you’ll carry some of that newfound interest over to HER WICKED SIN, my new historical romance from Entangled Scandalous. Set during the Salem Witch Trials, the story features a woman with a dark secret, a handsome stranger on a mysterious errand, combustible smexiness, and a couple of dark, delicious plot twists that will keep you out of the woods at night. Intrigued? Read on!

Her Wicked Sin | A Sins of Salem Novel (#1)

SALEM, MA 1692

On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight….

Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.

Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply…away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse…and claiming her bed.

Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.

Find it @ Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo iTunes Goodreads

  • Title: HER WICKED SIN (Sins of Salem #1)
  • Author: Sarah Ballance
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Publisher: Entangled Publishing
  • Release Date: September 9, 2013
  • ISBN 13: 9781622662494
  • Available format(s): ebook

Her Wicked Sin | Excerpt

“Willard, you beast.” A round of profanity followed the utterance. Though the stranger’s words were foul, they offered for his equine companion both comfort and reassurance. Their soothing cadence eased the alarm from the horse’s eyes, leading his ears to relax from their pinned state.

Lydia found herself enchanted by the man’s tones and by his obvious affection for the horse.

He shifted in the leaves, still facing away, and he had yet to acknowledge her. She should flee. She had freed him from his quandary, and his voice tinged itself not with pain, but with humor. She would feel  no remorse for moving past, yet her feet did not budge.

If she remained silent, would he not know her there? No, eventually  he would wonder what held the reins aloft. She watched, waiting for that moment. Through the profound darkness, she noticed his hair was a nutty brown and longer than that of a Puritan man, though its richness showed no trace of the powder worn by many wealthy travelers. He was a study of contrasts, this man. For all of his finery, he seemed to shun the ways of society, and his roguish nature appealed to those innermost desires she had thought long lost. Her husband, as he were, had ruined her womanhood.

This stranger, in the most insignificant ways, had roused it.

Find it @ Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo iTunes Goodreads

Review Snippets

“A thrilling romantic historical that deals with the Salem witch trials in a way that’s never been done before. Amazing!” – NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken (cover quote)

“Sarah Ballance has done an exceptional job with this release. The story is well built, plot flows effortlessly and the language is true to the era. An exciting read, start to finish! Definitely a must read!” – Joe Breedon via Goodreads

“This was wonderfully written and I just feel in love with the characters and the story.” – Crystal via Goodreads

“I loved and adored this book! Historicals are tricky because I often find that the characters use modern language and have modern opinions and feelings. NOT true here. The author has clearly researched the period and uses language that the people of the time would have used.” – Negar Arvanaghi via Goodreads

“This story is a page turner. There was one particular incident I never saw coming when it happened I was like OMG it can’t be. This is a must read for lovers of historical romance.” – Nadene via Goodreads

“This book was so good! … The relationship between the two characters is sensual and has twists that made me gasp. … I would definitely recommend this book and would read it again in a heartbeat.” – Darcus Murray via Goodreads

“I loved “Her Wicked Sin” from the first page. … I fell in love with her writing and characters. Sarah is able to make you feel as if you are a part of her character by her descriptions of their settings and feelings.” – Vicki Lake via Goodreads