I grew up in a farmhouse in Minnesota—but my mother had grown up in a far grander manner. She brought up myself and my siblings with silver and china at every meal. My brothers changed into white shirts for dinner; my sister and I only wore dresses to school, because we were ladies, and ladies wore dresses. It wasn’t until 4th grade that I was able to wear a pair of cords (not jeans!) to school. She taught me so much—and made it possible to write about the English aristocracy—but she also taught me to treasure pants, a longing that I gave to my cross-dressing heroine, Betsy.
Betsy is the eldest of the Duke of Lindow’s three daughters, which to an outsider makes it seem as if her life must be perfect. But, of course, it isn’t, given that her mother ran away when she was a baby and her parents divorced—an enormous scandal at the time. Bullying at school can affect someone throughout their life. Part of Betsy’s journey is finding a way to free herself of the negative repercussions of her boarding school and learn to forgive her mother, albeit from afar.
I took the descriptions of Jeremy’s PTSD from classical authors; unfortunately, the condition has existed as long as people have been going to war. I faced a challenge in trying to make it clear that falling in love is no cure for PTSD. Yet from everything I learned about it, the support of loved ones is crucial in recovery. Aunt Knowe, with her herbal antidepressants, and Betsy, with her witty repartee and billiards games, give Jeremy the peace he needs to recover.
I am not a fan of novels in which numerous characters from earlier in the series have walk-on roles, mostly because I can’t remember who was who after reading the previous books. For Say No to the Duke I cleared most of Lindow Castle, sending most of the Wildes off to Scotland and even farther afield. If you missing seeing the clan in action, don’t worry! Quite a few of them return to London in time for Viola’s debut!