Inside A Duke of Her Own
Warning! In describing relations between characters, I may wreck a book for you by making it clear who someone marries, or the outcome of a book. Please do not read about The Inside Take if you're wary of knowing who is paired with whom!
- I’m the kind of writer who can’t seem to think in terms of one book: I invariably design a world that takes up three or four books. This leads to a virtual web of connections between my books. So what I offer below is something of a family tree, a way of chasing the characters whom you particularly like through several books, or of figuring out why a character’s name sounds so very familiar to you.
- This is the sixth and last book in the Desperate Duchess series. So, although it stands alone, a number of characters appeared first in Desperate Duchesses, such as the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont (Jemma and Elijah), as well as in subsequent novels. The hero, the Duke of Villiers has appeared in each book, signally, perhaps, in This Duchess of Mine, wherein he rescued his son Tobias from the ignoble profession of being a mud lark.
- Each book in this series closes with a party that opens the next book, so this book opens with the Duchess of Beaumont’s ball to benefit the Roman baths, which ended the fifth book in the series, This Duchess of Mine.
- One thing that people may not have noticed about the previous five books in the series is that the Duke of Villiers was signally important in the resolution of a love affair in each book. In the first book, Desperate Duchesses, he was engaged to Roberta, until he decided to end that engagement by enraging her – which threw her into the arms of Damon Reeve, the Earl of Gryffyn. In Affair Before Christmas, he was instrumental in pushing his heir together with Miss Charlotte Tatlock. In Duchess by Night, he tells Jem (gently) that he almost had an affaire with Harriet, forcing Jem to understand how much he wants Harriet for himself; he does the same in When the Duke Returns by implying that he will now pursue Simeon’s cast-off wife, Isidore. This Duchess of Mine concludes the great love triangle/chess triangle that began in Desperate Duchesses: it is, in part, by recognizing how much of a danger Villiers poses to his marriage that Elijah begins to court Jemma in earnest. I would hesitate to call Villiers (or Leopold) a cupid, but as he learns about love, he influences those around him.
- This book concludes by answering a question posed in the very first book, Desperate Duchesses: who is Teddy’s mother? When I initially left this question unanswered, I thought of the series as shorter than the six books it ballooned to; my apologies to all the frustrated readers who wrote to beg for an answer… Here it is, finally.
- For those of you who are dog-lovers, I will confess that we were considering adding a dog to our family menagerie while I was writing this book, and so Oyster came into being. His more unsociable habits, such as peeing under chairs, are taken directly from our previous adventures in dogland with a fat, beloved Chihuahua named Milo (if you’ve read my memoir, Paris in Love, you’ll know all about Milo).
- I made up the diamond ring that Villiers gives to his beloved at the end of the novel. I have no idea whether Queen Elizabeth I ever threw a ring to Sir Walter Raleigh; but had I been she, I would have. He was handsome, he was gallant, and he was even a good poet. And she had diamond rings to spare, including some cut in the (now) old-fashioned lily formation.
- It was extremely unusual for Villiers to house his own children, but it was certainly not unheard of. Nor was it unheard of for a duchess to care for (and indeed, love) her husband’s illegitimate children. Perhaps the most notorious of these models was that of Lady Harley, Countess of Oxford, who raised so many illegitimate children that they were known as the Harleian Miscellany.
- I know you will write me to ask if I might write a novel for Gideon, the Duke of Astley. At this point I have no plans to do so, but I promise to keep Gideon in mind for a possible novella.
- To my great surprise, a reader named Heike wrote me from Germany and pointed out that Brocklehurt Orphanage must be an unconscious reference to Mr. Brocklehurst, the evil orphanage owner in Jane Eyre. Amazing! I read Jane Eyre so many times as a child that I remember every line drawing in the book… and so I obviously pulled that name straight out of my memory.