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The Standon Widows

Countdown to 20

Sometimes books just belong together, and these three, HOW I MET MY COUNTESS #13, MAD ABOUT THE DUKE #14, LORD LANGLEY IS BACK IN TOWN #15, isn’t so much three separate stories but one large bit of inspiration, connected by a web of links to so many of my other books that at times it made my head swim, and at their heart, these three books are about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places.

Inspiration

As I was writing Love Letters from a Duke, I had come How I Met My Countessup with a detailed family tree for how the duke inherited–because it is a rather roundabout route that he ends up the heir. And part way through, I realized there were three widow dowagers out there who would be under his protection. But I didn’t see them as old and gray, sitting in the parlor, knitting and gossiping. I saw them as three very different, very young women, each of whom had made very disastrous first marriages. Thus came to life the Widows Standon.

But what to do with them?

So asked myself, “Self, what would Felicity do?” Because when it comes to matters of the heart, and more to the point, matchmaking, no character in my books is better suited for the task than Felicity Langley. She’s meddled and matched her way through so many of my stories, I knew she would present the perfect solution: put these three widows who loathe each other in one house, offer them an out (get married) and then let nature take its course.

Connected

I think the best part of these three books is the connectedness of them. Mad About the Duke So many characters from my other books made appearances here, helped the stories along the way (or interfered!) and characters who never had the due attention they deserved (Malcolm, anyone?!) finally found their way onstage.

I loved how I was able to let Miranda and Jack from This Rake of Mine, roast James, the Duke of Parkerton. Well, he did deserve it! Or letting the Langley sisters’ infamous nannies finally make their onstage debut and do what they do best, cause trouble for Langley.

These stories wind together and tell a far larger tale, and I think that makes them all the more fun–because readers who have read the previous books are like, “Oh, yeah! There you are!”, while new readers look upon these surprise characters like Easter Eggs to go find in other books.

And some characters I just can’t let go of to save my soul. Felicity. Mad Jack. Arabella. Nanny Jamilla. The list goes on and on.

Friendship

Lord Langley is Back in TownWhile I started the book with the idea that these three women, Lucy, Elinor, and Minerva were very different people and had no use for each other, in the writing of each story, I began to see how each of them had something to offer to the others, lessons in living, skills that came to their aid, and experiences that bound them together. The heart of the three stories became not just a romance, but about growing friendships, and how that strengthened each of them so they were ready to risk falling in love. From Lucy’s brittle heart, to Elinor’s fears, to Minerva’s cold facade, they became richer, stronger women for forging a strong bond between them.

Felicity stuck them in that house together–hoping to use their disdain for each other to drive them into new marriages and off the family dole–but what she really created was a new beginning for the trio and three very happy endings.

How I Met My Countess
Read the Excerpt or Order your copy. Or do both. It’s all cool.

Mad About the Duke
Take a peek at the scene where Elinor finds out that her lawyer is a bit of a charmer. And then you might want to see what happens next by ordering the book.

Lord Langley is Back in Town
Read a bit about how Minerva battles her false engagement to the all-too-charming Lord Langley, then discover how it all turns out by ordering Lord Langley is Back in Town.

Question

Do you have a favorite of these three? Or just a favorite Bachelor Chronicles character that you love seeing step on to the page?

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Confessions of a Little Black Gown & Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress

Countdown to 20

I cannot do my 11th Avon romance, Confessions of a Little Black Gown without pairing it with its back-to-back partner, my 12th Avon romance, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. Confessions of a Little Black GownI wrote these books in about nine months total without any interruption so they could be published back to back. It wasn’t easy, but the stories are so intertwined that is was the best way to write them.

Yet these stories couldn’t be more different. Confessions of a Little Black Gown takes place over the fortnight of a house party, while Memoirs is just that—the story of Pippin and Dash and the twenty plus years it takes them to find their way to each other. While I love the fast paced romance of Tally and Larken, the poignancy of Pippin and Dash is in the mistakes they make and the heartbreaking choices that leave them separated for so long.

To me, this makes their story more real than any other romance I’ve written. When Pippin makes the choices she does in Confessions, when we see the outcome in Memoirs, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dressit is heart wrenching. While some readers felt the pair were cheated by not having their immediate happily ever after, I will stand my ground in the firm belief that in the end, the Pippin and Dash who gain their hearts’ desire will never waste a single moment of that gift.

Besides, Memoirs is a good reminder that true love can happen at any time in our lives.

Confessions of a Little Black Gown: Read the Excerpt. Order your own copy.

Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress: Read the Excerpt. Order your own copy.

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Tempted by the Night

Countdown to 20

So after dishing yesterday about the covers I, u-hum, don’t like, I get to rave and rave about this one. I nearly swooned when I saw the artwork for TEMPTED BY THE NIGHT. In fact, the next thing I did was contact the artist, Jon Paul, and beg him to let me buy it for my office.

It hangs there to this day. Tempted Final Front A What I love about the full artwork that you don’t really see on the cover of the book are all the wonderful details of this night scene. The carriage, the shadowy street. And just the intimate detail in the clothes. I sort of daydream and crush on it when I look up from writing.

And as much as I love the artwork, that is nothing compared to how much I loved writing the Marlowe series (His Mistress by Morning & Tempted by the Night), from the first spark of an idea of a magic ring that grants the wearer one single wish (whether they realize it or not) just seemed filled with possibilities.

From Charlotte Wilmont’s wish to be the woman ElizBo1Viscount Trent loved, (and she wakes up the next morning exactly that, the woman he loves with all his heart, except she’s not his wife, but his mistress) to Hermione Marlowe’s wish to go about unseen so she can discover what it is the Earl of Rockhurst does at night. Spoiler: it doesn’t involve a mistress. But poor Hermoine spends a good part of the book invisible. Literally.

I actually have about 100 pages of the third book written, but the Marlowes’ stories became victims of shifting reading trends and were sent to the chopping block by a greater power than mine. AKA My Publisher. AKA the people who write the checks. But I hate leaving these stories hanging–so one of these days I am going to find a way to finish this series.

I promise. Maybe if we all make that wish on the Marlowe Family Tree Cordelia, Griffin and Viola’s stories will come to life …

Did you read the Marlowe series? Did you love or hate the paranormal elements?

Read the Excerpts from Tempted by the Night or His Mistress by Morning.

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His Mistress By Morning and Love Letters from a Duke

Countdown to 20

I’m combining #8 (HIS MISTRESS BY MORNING) and #9 (LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE) into one post because they actually fit into a category that I like to call: Two Covers that Make Me Cringe.

Sometimes the cover goddesses are overly generous (think The Knave of Hearts, Along Came a Duke, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress, or Tempted by the Night)-I must admit, I’ve been mostly lucky in the covers that have found their way onto my books.

With the exception of these two:

Love Letters from a DukeHis Mistress By Morning

ARRRRRGH!!!

Now, I know there are lots of you who will protest and say that you LOVE these covers, and that is perfectly ok. But the author has such a personal relationship with their book and when the cover doesn’t fit that vision, it is like wearing the wrong color. You know, the yellow or orange that makes you look like an alien.

These are my aliens.

Cover Faux Pas No. 1

LoveLettersFromADukeLet’s start with Love Letters from a Duke. When I got the first pass at this cover, the carriage was all painted up like some fancy stage coach from a cheap western. While they toned that all down, (including adding more of her dress so we weren’t looking entirely up her skirt) all I see when I look at that this cover is the title I secretly have for it:

MISS MARY’S WHORISH RETURN TO THE WILD WEST SHOW.

I suppose that isn’t so secret now.

Cover Faux Pas No. 2

ElizBo2Someone on one of the blogs very publicly pointed out this white hot mess: My Regency era heroine has a tan line. So I have to assert categorically that there was a very secret and not well publicized tanning salon on Bond Street in 1812. That’s my story and I am sticking with it.

More to the point, my dismay with this cover is that while the title is “His Mistess by Morning“, why does my very shy, wallflower, respectable heroine have to be posed with her hand on her hip like she’s trolling for her next John? I would have preferred not.

‘Nuff said.

Still . . ..

The funny thing is, I love these books. Writing His Mistress by Morning was like a gift from the story gods. The story just poured out. And Love Letters a Duke, well, I’ve never laughed so hard when writing. Felicity Langley is one of my most hilarious heroines–all because she takes herself so seriously. So you decide, wretched covers aside, which is your favorite?

HIS MISTRESS BY MORNING


LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE

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This Rake of Mine

Countdown to 20

From the light hearted fare of SOMETHING ABOUT EMMALINE came my 7th Avon Romance, THIS RAKE OF MINE and my next hero, Mad Jack Tremont. #20thAvonRomance Countdown(6)(Yet another exit sign hero–read about that here) But Jack’s story was no comedy and suddenly I found myself writing a very gothic adventure about the dark and mysterious house on the cliff that one shouldn’t go calling at.

But knocking on the door is exactly what my heroine does. Miss Jane Porter, (aka Miranda Mabberly) a teacher from the very prestigious Miss Emery’s school is escorting home three students, when inclement weather traps them at Jack’s house, and the arrival uncovers a grand mystery.

Behind the scenes facts

I used the name of my good friend and great author, Jane Porter as a place holder of sorts for Miranda Mabberly’s alias. I often do that when I need a quick name and can’t think of just the right one–I pull the name of a friend or family member out of This Rake of Minethin air and stick it in the manuscript with the intention of changing it later. But in this case, Jane Porter stuck, and it wasn’t until it was too late (the book was about to go to print) that I realized what I had done–or rather forgotten to do, which was rename the alias. So the name stuck and it was, in my humble opinion, a happy accident.

THIS RAKE OF MINE introduces Mad Jack’s older brother, the Duke of Parkerton. He eventually returns for his own story, MAD ABOUT THE DUKE, but here we find him to the only straight laced and normal member of the infamously “Mad” Tremonts. The duke is a bit bowled over by Jack’s houseguest/bride-to-be and says,

“A more formidable, sharp-witted woman I have never met.”

The Duke of Parkerton has that right. At least until he meets his own match.

THIS RAKE OF MINE was lampooned in the Economist with a warning to gardeners that this was not a story of yard implements. It was also nominated for the Romance Writer’s of America RITA award. And it perennially tops out as one of reader’s favorite reads.

Decide for yourself by ordering THIS RAKE OF MINE here. Or just take a quick peek inside at the Excerpt.

Don’t miss some of the other stories behind my Countdown to My 20th Avon Romance!

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