Why isn’t there a chess game in A Duke of Her Own?

The reason there’s no chess in the book has to do with Villiers’s own development: He started out the series completely obsessed by chess, and using the game as a substitute for intimacy and sex (thus the chess games with Jemma). He fell in love with Jemma through chess; we could even say because of her chess ability. Therefore, it was important that in the process of the books he move away from that substitution of chess for life, and toward an understanding of how important intimacy and love is. He got a fever and nearly died; he had a break from playing; and then there’s the signal game with Jemma when he doesn’t even care if he wins (she can’t believe it). That’s the turning point for Villiers: when he’s more absorbed in his children than playing a chess game. That’s why I couldn’t put a chess/sex game in his own novel: because he had to fall in love with Eleanor without a whiff of chess around. At the end I made it clear that she could play, just so they could have fun in the future… but their relationship had nothing to do with that sort of winning & losing.

And if you’re a fan of Villiers, you’ll be happy to know that he appears in all six of the original Desperate Duchesses books and the three By the Numbers books.

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