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Inside Your Wicked Ways

  • My heroine, Helene, decides to cut off all her hair. She employs the same hairdresser used by Charlotte in my very first book, Potent Pleasures! I adore Cinderella makeovers and have to stop myself from putting a version in every novel.
  • I got the idea to open the book with a chapter of letters from a brilliant mystery novel by the golden age novelist, Dorothy Sayers. Her Busman’s Honeymoon begins with a flurry of letters amongst the nobility of London, gossiping about the upcoming wedding of Lord Peter Wimsey, Sayers’ hero.
  • Since this book was published, a few readers and reviewers have expressed dismay that Helene would go to the lengths of returning to her husband’s house under unpleasant and secret circumstances. What got me thinking about this was the plight of several of my friends. I’ve reached an age where I have friends undergoing invitro-fertilization for the fourth or even fifth time…so desperate to have a child that they wager all quality of life in the search. Helene is my imagined version of a 19th century woman with a similar passion.
  • When I started this novel, I had only one scene in mind: that in which Helene tells her husband’s mistress that she’d like to borrow him for five minutes, and the mistress says that on a good day, Rees might take six or even seven. Obviously, I had set myself two enormous challenges, from a romantic novelist’s point of view: a hero who was less than terrific in bed, and a heroine who was talking to a fallen woman without fainting.
  • The Earl of Mayne and his sister first appear in this novel and will reappear in my next series, which begins with Much Ado About You. Both Mayne and Griselda end up happily in love by the end of the Essex Sisters series.

Mea Culpa, Your Wicked Ways

  • A reader pointed out that there’s a grammar error on page 274 at the bottom: “He had rearranged herself and him,” should be “herself and HIMSELF.” I flunk undergraduates papers for this sort of thing…
  • Sylvie wrote me all the way from France to point out (and she should know) that petit mort on page 361 should be petite mort, the feminine version because death is female. Bummer. Besides my strong feeling that death should be male – think sickle, black gown, etc. – I got all my French checked over by someone who was supposed to know!
  • Kit points out that on page 131, Rees asks if Helene has published the pieces for four hands she was working on last summer – but that was actually in the spring. Rees and Helene first talked about the Beethoven sonatas in April, during A Wild Pursuit. The same mistake happens on 232.
  • Kit also pointed out that there is some confusion in the book about when Helene and Rees actually slept together for the first time. Did they stop in an inn on the way to Gretna Greene (i.e., before marrying), or did that terrible night occur on their way back from Gretna? The truth is that both participants in that awful night wiped it from their memories as best they could, and so there isn’t very much information available at this point.
  • The biggest problem in this book will only exist in the first edition, if you manage to have a copy of that. It is that the first chapter of letters are all dated April, 1816, and the final chapter of letters (after everything has happened in the book) are dated January, 1816. ARGH! The last chapter should be dated January, 1817. If you are at all interested, this egregious oversight caused something of a flurry in the Harper Collins copyediting department, and now I am promised help by the very best with my future work.
  • Quite a few people wrote me wistful letters, wishing that the subplot of Your Wicked Ways could have received more space. This is one of those cases when a writer simply can’t judge what will happen: I was worried that people would be offended by the love between a priest and his brother’s mistress.