Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog today—it’s a pleasure to be here with you and your readers, Susana!
With My Fair Princess, I’m thrilled to be introducing a new historical romance series called The Improper Princesses. It’s Regency-set, and it’s a spin-off from my previous series, The Renegade Royals. Both are grounded in a specific historical element—the rather outrageous love lives of the sons of King George III.
The term “Regency rake” could very well have been coined for the Prince Regent and his royal brothers. They lived large (literally and figuratively), gambling, drinking, and engaging in numerous sexual affairs. The Prince Regent, later George IV, took several mistresses, which included actresses (one of whom he secretly married), and possibly fathered up to four illegitimate children.
The Duke of York also had several by-blows, perhaps as many as five, and the Duke of Clarence (later William IV) sired ten children with his mistress, Mrs. Jordan. I could go on, but you get the picture! As you can see, in developing a series based on this topic I had plenty of material to work with. Even better, very little—if anything—was known about many of these children, which left plenty of leeway in creating my fictional characters.
In The Renegade Royals I featured heroes who were the illegitimate sons of England’s princes. The Improper Princesses, however, features the illegitimate daughters in the starring roles. As challenging as the “stain” of illegitimacy was for male children, just imagine what it would have been like for females born of illicit relationships during that era. Plenty of room for drama and conflict in their stories!
The heroine of My Fair Princess is Gillian Dryden, the product of a relationship between the notorious Duke of Cumberland and a young widow. Gillian was basically raised in exile in Sicily, where she grew up as a tomboy. She’s a crack shot, a terrific rider, and carries knives in her boots. Gillian also developed the unfortunate hobby of hunting bandits who terrorized the countryside and were responsible for the death of her beloved stepfather.
Because of this risky avocation, Gillian’s family deems it time for her to return home to England, where she can learn to be a proper lady and find a respectable husband. The man tasked with this challenge is Charles Penley, the Duke of Leverton, who happens to be the most polite and sophisticated man in London.
Let’s just say that Charles has his work cut out for him, and let’s also say that Gillian’s training and transformation don’t go exactly as planned!
I had great fun writing this book, and I really enjoyed grounding the story in a small part of the lives of England’s princes. In this case, the truth was definitely more outrageous than fiction!
Are you a fan of real-life historical characters in your historical romance? Can there be too much history in romance? Two people who comment will win signed, print copies of How to Marry a Royal Highlander, the 4th book in The Renegade Royals Series.
About My Fair Princess
First, Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .
Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.
Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?
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About the Author
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. The Renegade Royals, her last series, was a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband as VK Sykes.