Inside Three Weeks With Lady X
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!
- You do not need to have read any of my previous books to read Three Weeks with Lady X. That said, if you have read the Desperate Duchesses series, you’ll recognize some old friends, since Thorn, the hero of Three Weeks, is the eldest illegitimate son of the Duke of Villiers. Thorn appeared as a young boy in final books of the DD series: This Duchess of Mine and A Duke of Her Own.
- All the same, if you go back and reread those two novels, you won’t encounter a boy called “Thorn.” Instead, you’ll find a street urchin named Juby whose father (Villiers) insists that he was christened Tobias. I love the name, but as Thorn shaped on the page, it was clear that he was far too wild and ferocious to be a “Tobias”—which brings to mind flannel, hot chocolate and big smiles. Consequently, once Villiers sent Tobias off to Eton, he gained a new nickname, Thorn.
- In the Desperate Duchesses series, Leopold, Duke of Villiers, plays a role in resolving each of the five love stories (and, of course, his own). Naturally, he had to appear in Three Weeks and play Cupid once more. So he does!
- Xenobia is an unusual name, and many readers have asked me about it. While writing the novel, I realized that this particular heroine needed to have an exotic name that gestured toward a very strong woman. Xenobia/Zenobia was a 3rd century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. Lady Xenobia India’s parents were the proverbial grasshoppers: they loved life, and their daughter, but they never calculated the effects of their actions. Those would have been hard names for a young girl to carry into polite society, but India proved more than capable.
- One of the biggest conflicts in Three Weeks has to do with the behavior expected of a “gentleman.” Since Thorn grew up on the streets, in a constant struggle between life and death, he has no respect for the rules governing the behavior of men and women. At the same time, he has an innate, deep sense of honor. I had fun shaping a gentleman whose ethics and conviction are natural, rather than learned.
- Generally speaking, my editor, Carrie Feron, and I see eye-to-eye about her revision suggestions. But when it came to Three Weeks, Carrie was worried that India showed too much knowledge of modern medical practices (for example, when she tries to keep Thorn’s wound clean). I overruled her, partly because I didn’t want my hero to be mortally ill, but also because I wanted India to play an active role in saving his life. Still…Carrie was right. India couldn’t have known about the sources of infection in wounds.
- There were a few points in this novel which spring from my memories of best-beloved novels. The scene in which Thorn takes his little orphaned ward, Rose, to a fabulous toy shop in order to buy the perfect doll came from one of my favorite scenes in A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Like Emily, the doll that Sara Crewe chose with her father, Rose’s Antigone had a gorgeous, luxurious wardrobe. I thought it was a lovely counterpoint: two orphans bought dolls, one with hardship in her past (Rose), and one with hardship lying ahead of her (Sara).
- Another important literary-esque moment? The very first lines of the novel, when the Lord Dibbleshire’s breathless request for India’s hand in marriage echoes Mr. Darcy’s first proposal in Pride and Prejudice. I wanted to invoke the outrageous condescension with which Darcy, albeit unconsciously, infuriates Lizzy Bennet.