Message From Ally
Thanks for hosting me at the Parlour today, Susana. I have a funny…or perhaps I should say ironic story to share with you about my new release. I’ve been reading historical romance for most of my life. I read in just about every time period, but the Regency is my favorite. I’ve read a lot of books set during the Regency period, and Jane Austen is my favorite author. Strangely enough, when I decided to try to write a book, I didn’t think I could write historical romance. I wrote a young adult book and a children’s book before I decided that maybe I could write a Regency.
As a lifelong history buff and a history major in college, my first step when I write any new book is to research. One area I needed a lot of information about was the British peerage. I studied the various peerages, forms of address, laws of succession, and many other topics. One thing I discovered really surprised me. In 1820, there were only eighteen dukes, seventeen marquesses, and one hundred earls. So where are all of these dukes and lords coming from in the stories I read? I decided then and there that I would not write a story with a duke as the hero because there was such a remote chance that there would have been a young, unmarried, desirable duke available.
Except my second book, How to Beguile a Duke, was just released. Yeah, how did “duke” get in the title if I refuse to use a duke as the hero? Of course I didn’t plan for the hero to be a duke at first. I had the heroine all figured out first. Raised in the Bahamas, the daughter of an English lady and a French man rumored to be a pirate, she was unconventional to say the least. I thought an unconventional hero would be perfect for her, but my editor had other ideas. She suggested that what my heroine needed was someone who was her polar opposite. Someone who would challenge her at every turn. Who could be more unlike an unconventional, impetuous girl than a stuffy duke who thinks he is always right? The moment Nick and Catherine appeared on the page together, the story took off and I could barely type fast enough to keep up with them. So, I decided to break my own rule. I’d like to share a short excerpt with you so you can judge for yourself whether it was a good decision:
She crossed her arms. “Your Grace. I have never been so insulted. I am not accustomed to having my word questioned.”
“Well you must become accustomed to it if you are going to continue to break into other people’s homes at your whim.”
“You should as well if you are going to lie to your guests about your whereabouts.”
He took a step forward and looked down his nose at her. Every part of her body awakened to his proximity. A whiff of cedar tickled her nose.
“Miss Malboeuf, you would do well to learn the customs of English society. It is my prerogative to turn away callers I do not wish to see. When my butler told you I was not at home, you should have understood it meant I did not wish to give you audience.”
She took a step back, hoping her mind would reengage. “It is still an untruth, which is the same thing as a lie. Why not tell the truth? Then I would have known your intentions from the start.”
The duke clenched his jaw. “Perhaps you should seek out someone who can provide you lessons in deportment.”
“That won’t be necessary, Your Grace. I attended a class on deportment in New Orleans.”
His gaze dropped to her unshod feet. “It’s a pity you weren’t able to complete the course.”
Now I understand why authors like to use dukes as their heroes, even given how unlikely it was that there were any eligible dukes to be had.
What do you think? Are there too many dukes in Regency romances, or do you prefer, like me, to pretend there were plenty of dukes to go around?
Nancy Mayer, Regency Researcher: http://www.regencyresearcher.com/pages/peer1.html
Cannon, John. Aristocratic Century. Cambridge University Press, 1984
About How to Beguile a Duke
The spirited Catherine Malboeuf has just arrived in England to reclaim her ancestral home, Walsley Manor, and a valuable missing heirloom. Nicholas Adair, the attractive and frustratingly inflexible Duke of Boulstridge, however, is quite unwilling to sell the estate back to Catherine. Unless, of course, she accepts a small wager…
Nick will sell Walsley Manor if—and only if—Catherine secures an offer of marriage from an eligible member of the ton before the end of the London season.
Of course, Nick is certain he’ll win. After all, no proper gentleman would ever marry a woman who conceals a cutlass in her skirts. Yet something about Catherine’s unconventional disposition seems to ignite a need deep inside him. A need that won’t just cost him the wager, but the very heart he swore to never give away…
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About the Author
Ally has worked as a horse trainer, director of marketing and development, freelance proofreader, and a children’s librarian, among other things. None of them were as awesome as writing romance novels (though the librarian gig came closest). She lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband.
Ally likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head looking for an opportunity to escape onto paper. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.