Inside Duchess By Night
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!
- This is the third book in the Desperate Duchess series. Although it stands alone, there are a number of characters that appeared first in Desperate Duchesses, such as the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont (Jemma and Elijah).
- The Duchess series has a formal structure: each new book opens at the same party that closed the previous book. So An Affair Before Christmas opened with Duchess of Beaumont’s post-duel party, which closed Desperate Duchesses. Duchess by Night opens at the Duchess of Beaumont’s Twelfth Night party, which closed Affair Before Christmas (some Affair characters dance by, identified only through costume). Duchess by Night ends with one of Lord Strange’s dissolute house parties…no prizes for guessing the first scene in When the Duke Returns (the fourth book in the series).
- In each of the Duchess books, I leave one small question unanswered. In Desperate Duchesses, who is Teddy’s mother? In An Affair Before Christmas, why did Lord Strange sell only the queen in his chess set? And in Duchess by Night, Lord Strange decides to sell the rest of the set: who will buy it? You will learn more about the chess set – and Teddy’s mother – in the final book in the series when all will be answered (I admit it: I probably admire J.K. Rowling a bit too much).
- People are always praising writers for their creativity and imagination. I’m not one to turn down praise, but the fact is that many episodes in my novels have a basis in truth. When I was writing Duchess by Night, my daughter was bitten by a tick and contacted Lyme’s disease. It’s hardly as serious as rat bite fever, but I happened to be reading Robert Sullivan’s wonderful book, Rats. Before I knew it, Eugenia had rat bite fever, and I was putting all my fears for my daughter on the page.
- Lord Strange’s new secretary, Miss DesJardins, first appeared in Desperate Duchesses, where she was responsible for the ornate, yet naked, centerpiece designated for Jemma’s party (and vetoed by Elijah). Once she’s installed at Fonthill, she comes up with the Tahitian Feast of Venus with its naked, shivering nymphs. Don’t worry! I have plans for Miss DesJardins and her unusual skills; she will appear again.
- The hummingbird collection that Jem thinks of buying is real; I discovered it in a wonderful book by Judith Pascoe called The Hummingbird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collectors. If you’re interested in curiosities and their cabinets, this is a great place to start.