It's my pleasure to welcome Theresa Romain back to The Romance Dish today. Theresa's newest historical romance, TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS was released May 6th. Janga's 5-star review of the book was posted here yesterday. You can read it by clicking here.
You can find more information about Theresa and her books by visiting her website and connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.
Take it away, Theresa!
When a Duke Has to Be a Duke
PJ and Andrea, thanks for hosting me today at The Romance Dish! I’m so glad to join you to chat about the release of my newest Regency-set historical romance, To Charm a Naughty Countess.
I’ve written heroes with titles before. I’ve also written a few mere Misters. But the hero of To Charm a Naughty Countess—Michael, Duke of Wyverne—is the first duke to get a HEA in one of my books.
Dukes and duchesses stand on the highest rung of the aristocracy, just under the monarchy itself. They’re synonymous with wealth and power and influence. Or are they?
I wanted to play around with the idea of what a duke, and a dukedom, could represent in this book. Eccentric, brilliant Michael has no influence at all in society, because he’s stayed away from London for 11 years since rumors of his madness began to spread.
And as To Charm a Naughty Countess begins, he doesn’t have wealth either. He has lost a fortune due to the real-life “Year Without a Summer,” a period of freezing temperatures in 1816 that caused crop failures throughout Europe. Here’s how Michael views the situation:
The damned winter. Until this year, Michael trusted two things in the world: his own judgment and his land. But this year, spring had never come, and it seemed summer would also fail to make an appearance. For months, the world had lain under a chilly frost. And now Michael couldn’t trust the land, and no one else trusted his judgment.
Faced with financial ruin, he has to venture to London to catch a wealthy bride. This is easier said than done, since those old questions about his sanity pop up again as soon as he re-enters society (and turns a chair upside-down…and takes a lamp apart…and…well, you get the idea. He’s a tinkerer). He needs help if he’s ever going to succeed—and who better to help him than London’s most popular widow, Caroline, Lady Stratton?
Caroline seems to be a soap bubble of a person, all fragile gloss. But she knows, and Michael soon learns, that there’s much more to her. She asks questions he’s never considered before, about the responsibilities that almost consume him:
* * *
She lifted her chin. “Have you made your own decision, then?”
“About how you’ll spend your life.”
“There’s nothing to decide. As I was born the heir to a dukedom, I’ve always known how I would spend my life.”
“No, that’s how you spend your time.”
He narrowed his eyes. On another man, this might have seemed a glare, but Caroline could tell it for an expression of careful scrutiny. “I do not perceive the difference.”
“My point exactly. You are a duke, first and foremost—but you’ve also become a duke solely.”
All right, perhaps those narrowed eyes were a glare after all.
* * *
Before they can find their way to a HEA, Caroline and Michael have to find balance—not just in their relationship, but within themselves. When a duke has to be a duke all the time, how is he ever to find a duchess?
Don’t worry; I promise you he does. J And by the end of their story, they bring out the best in each other.
Today I’ll give a copy of To Charm a Naughty Countess to one random commenter with a US or Canada address. Just let me know: what do you think you’d like most about being a duchess (or duke, if male readers happen by)? Or what do you think would be the toughest part?