#10 on the New York Times bestseller list.
- This is the fourth book in the Desperate Duchess series. So, although it stands alone, a number of characters appeared first in earlier books, such as the Duke of Villiers, and the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont (Jemma and Elijah). Jemma’s story, This Duchess of Mine, will be next in the series, publishing in June, 2009.
- Every book in the Desperate Duchess series opens with the party that closed the previous book. Here’s the party circuit, so far: Desperate Duchesses closed with Jemma’s party to celebrate her brother’s dueling victory; An Affair Before Christmas opened at that same party and ended with Jemma’s Twelfth Night masquerade; Duchess by Night opened with the masquerade and ended at Lord Strange’s endless house party; When the Duke Returns began at that house party and ended on the King’s yacht, the Peregrine. No prizes for guessing the opening location of the fifth book, This Duchess of Mine!
- In each of the Desperate Duchess series, I leave one tiny question unanswered. To catch each question, check the Inside Take for the various books. For When the Duke Returns, the question involves Simeon’s fortune, told in India: “He told me that it was up to me to make sure that my fortune didn’t turn out as he prophesied.” What grim news do you think that Simeon managed to avoid? For the answer, wait for the sixth book in this series, A Duke of Her Own.
- Signora Angelico, Isidore’s Italian lingerie maker, is based on my husband’s delightful aunt, who has built a stellar career creating hand-made nightgowns for (literally) royalty all over the world, especially the Arab countries. Her studio, like that of Signora Angelico, is a treasure box of ribbons and lace.
- I got the idea of the Dead Watch from reading an article about a modern business that specializes in difficult cleaning jobs, of just this sort. Unlike the Dead Watch, their modern offspring are both entirely respectable and limit themselves to violent death, rather than septic tanks.
For the release of When the Duke Returns, Eloisa asked her readers “What’s the Worst Job Imaginable in Georgian England?” Here are her most favorite responses:
Shelly M. from MN:
The Queen. A bad husband, no privacy, no respect, no freedom.
Wendy K. from NC:
I think the worst job would be a “Resurrection Men” or body snatcher. I mean really can you imagine that job!
Angela from CA:
The worst job in Georgian England would be that of a surgeon. Imagine, lopping off limbs and such; touching people with bare, unwashed hands slippery with blood, guts and innards; using rusty tools; dosing patients with mysterious quack medicines(most likely made of turpentine and other horrible liquids); fighting the stench of gangrene and unwashed bodies? Horrifying.
Camilla from TN:
Umm, it would have to be ratcatcher…….I realize someone had to do it, but ugh!!!!!! Going by modern avoidances, perhaps I should have said laundress (it seeems hard now with machine,imagine then!!!!!
Chris S. from FL:
A wet nurse for twins who always want to eat at the same time.
Colleen C. from AZ:
Hmmm, as a woman, being a serving wench…too many hands grabbing! or the maid who cleans out the chamber pots under the bed!
“With her flare and sophistication, Isidore would carry off this gem-laden gown with aplomb.”
To see six more paper doll dresses designed by readers plus the one Eloisa made, and to access the download template so you can make your own, please explore Eloisa’s Design-a-Duchess Paper Dolls Book Extra.
- Isidore wanders into the garden, where a blackthorn tree “was scattering seeds everywhere, like a child feeding birds in a dizzying circle.” Philip wrote me from England with the following observation: “Blackthorn may be a tree with seeds in North America, but in the U.K. it is a bush, commonly found in hedgerows. It does have seeds, but they are in the centre of small blue/purple plum-like fruit that tend to stay on the bush into winter. The fruit are bitter and known as Sloes.” Ouch! I still like my metaphor, though.
- Ann pointed out that in chapter 37, Villiers declares himself the 2nd cousin twice removed to the Marquise de Perthuis. He also states that they were “thrown [played] together as children”. The term “twice removed” when referring to cousins means that they are two generations apart. So it’s unlikely (though not impossible, the way generations migrate apart) that they were children together.
- Time is always a problem for me. And not only in the way of T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock either (“I shall grow old…I shall grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled”) but because I lose track of my own characters, and their particular timelines. There are a couple of errors in When the Duke Returns. Kit pointed out that on page 137 in An Affair Before Christmas Jemma tells Poppy Elijah and his mistress had been together for three years at the time Elijah married Jemma. But then on page 106 in When the Duke Returns, Elijah says that he ended his relationship with Sarah when Jemma found them together – and that the relationship had been six years in the making. Sigh.
- And there are, alas, a few small typos. Girlie Grace pointed out that on page 227, Elijah says “I’m been” rather than “I’ve been.” Cayks discovered that on page 220, Isobel says that since she’ll be looking for a spouse she won’t “have to time to” (an extra “to”), and FanLit found Simeon being extra-gymnastic on page 204, when he put his hands on Isobel’s bottom and managed to “pull him against her.” There’s a glaring repetition on page 307, when Jemma says “Not to strange, after all. After all, we are all…” That’s so like me. I say “after all” far too often, and obviously I gifted Jemma with the same terrible trait.
- Deb noted that on the bottom of page 227, Elijah stops making sense (not normal for him!), when he says, “I’m been.” It should be “I’ve been,” of course.
- Candice realized from a sneak peek before the book was even out that on page 350 Isidore tells the tedious Turquoise Coated man that she must retire to the “lady’s salon.” Of course, she should make her way to the “ladies’ salon,” which is, in fact, where she finds herself on page 352.
- Annelies found another mistake in the same sneak peek (yes, I am rethinking the advisability of excerpts!): On page 348, Isidore points out that a swim would be disastrous: “If I fell overboard, I would sink like a stone. These stones are quite small but put together, they’re quite heavy.” Jemma very sensibly suggests that she “sit in a throne to receive the admiring hoards.” Well, as Annelies pointed out, those hordes of suitors aren’t “hoards” unless Isidore is storing them in the folds of her dress – which means she really would sink!