Sweet and flattering.
Women in 19th century America, and around the world for that matter, never failed to swoon at least a little when a man paid her this honor. Yes it was both sweet and flattering!
Originating in Poland in the 17th century, hand kissing is something that has been given many different meanings. When it comes to love and romance though, this is one classy gesture no woman can resist.
Rhett Butler did it.
Yes, he did. And Scarlett (along with every other female in sight) was bowled over by the sight of this exquisitely handsome man pressing his lips to her hand. Just think about it. Sigh.
Since Rhett, who perfected the hand kiss to my mind, men nowadays still offer this as a way of paying tribute to a lady and, sometimes, as a way of hinting that he wants much more.
With the exception of Italy, where social hand kissing was reserved exclusively for men to bestow on married women, those belonging to the higher circles around the world knew this as a way to flirt that was always smiled upon.
Gentlemen were highly skilled and well-practiced in the chivalrous arts back in the day and that meant paying a great deal of attention to the women around them. Females from 16 years old and up, married or unmarried, pretty or not, attracted them like honey for bees. And these educated, cultured men, were raised to treat every woman as though she was the most beautiful thing on Earth – and that also made the men very attractive despite what could be their own lack of good looks and/or their family’s financial straits.
I’ve created the men in my books to be similar to how men actually were in 1840. They were not complicated creatures really, most issues were black and white to them with few gray areas, and they prided themselves on the way they treated women and how much respect they received in return. Even the villains put up a good front.
Speaking of villains, more than one of my male characters break important rules, knowingly of course, and they mistreat women, use them for their own purposes, and openly discredit women who refuse to accept their offers. Let the games begin!
Using hand kissing for evil reasons.
Oh yea, the hand kiss was (and surely still is) used as way of disguising sinister agendas. Imagine if Judas kissed a lady on the hand. Terrifying thought, right?
Men in my CounterClockwise series don’t always live up to the Code of Chivalry, and this causes all sorts of problems for women. Up to and including threats to life itself.
And no matter what kind of crime was secretly being planned, men knew that if they simply put on a good show they would likely get away with whatever they had in mind. It was an age of innocence in lots of ways after all. But then again, not everyone was quite so innocent….