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Archive for July, 2012


Congratulations to her grace Elisa Beatty for winning the Golden Heart® in the historical category with her manuscript DEVIL MAY CARE!

Congratulations as well to our other Duchess finalists: Tracy Brogan, Eileen Emerson, Wendy LaCapra, Jen McQuiston and Sharon Wray!

In addition, congratulations to Tessa Dare and Joanna Bourne, two authors who have been gracious enough to appear on our blog and who won Ritas last night. We like to think we have something to do with that…

A Bargain Bride: The Duke of Chandos Buys a Wife

Anne, Duchess of Chandos (1746) by Joseph Highmore. (Credit: National Museums Liverpool)


History rarely serves up a more romantic true story than that of Anne Wells Bridges, a chambermaid whose husband sold her to a duke, who then made her his duchess.

The story goes that Henry Bridges, 2nd Duke of Chandos, first saw Anne while dining with a friend at the Pelican Inn in Newbury, where she worked.

A stir in the inn yard drew the duke’s attention. When he learned a man was about to sell his wife, His Grace reportedly replied, “We will go and see the sale.”

Anne’s husband, a drunken inn ostler, had a halter around his wife’s neck. The duke, impressed with Anne’s beauty and patience, decided to buy her himself.

Another version of the story is that Henry saw the ostler beat his wife and, feeling sorry for her, offered the husband a sum of money for her.

The story gets a little murky here. One version suggests Henry, a widower, made Anne his mistress. Another is that his first wife had not yet died and that he placed Anne in the care of a vicar’s family.

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Wives Behaving Badly: The Homily of Matrimony

Imagine you’re a bride, sitting in church on your wedding day.

The priest ascends the pulpit and intones solemnly that, compared to a man, “woman is a weak creature, not endowed with like strength and constancy of mind, therefore… the sooner disquieted, and… the more prone to all weak affections and dispositions of mind, more than men be, and… lighter …and more vain in their fantasies and opinions.”

Then the priest delivers the really nasty bottom line: because women are so weak and foolish, God requires that they submit to their husband’s wills.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be loading my dart gun.

Of course, in most periods in which historical romances are set, European women heard the “weaker vessel” argument on a very regular basis. Legal, political, educational and economic realities were all designed around a basic assumption of male superiority.

So romance novelists face a knotty problem. How do we write the strong, autonomous heroines (and the egalitarian marriages) modern readers demand and still hold true to historical realities?

If we want to be historically accurate, do we have to show our heroines being submissive to their husbands, and constantly bowing to men’s “superior” intellect and strength? To use Duchess Valerie Bowman’s term, are we writing “mistoricals” when we give our heroines backbones or (gasp!) make them openly rebel against expected gender norms?

As it happens, the text I quoted above provides an interesting solution to that problem, at least for my money—and it’s always brought me comfort when I think about the lives of actual women in a culture whose stated ideologies so flagrantly demeaned them.

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Tea Time with Elizabeth Boyle

Today the Duchesses are pleased as punch to welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Elizabeth Boyle. She has penned eighteen romantic novels including Confessions of a Little Black Gown, Love Letters from a Duke, Hero, Come Back, How I Met My Countess, and Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. Elizabeth has been thrice nominated for the RWA® RITA, and garnered a Career Achievement Award for Innovative Historical Romance. She has received dozens of other accolades during her prolific career and we are so happy to have her here today.


TB:  Thank you again for joining us, Elizabeth. Please tell us about your most recent release? What are the themes of this story?

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Fencing, and I Don’t Mean the Chain-Link Variety

An affair of honor, a dawn appointment. For many readers of historical romance, the automatic assumption is the matter will be settled with pistols at ten paces. But there was a time when such a matter was just as likely to be settled at sword point.


Thus fencing lessons were considered a proper part of a gentleman’s education. For our English hero, until the mid-18th century, he might well have had to learn the art of swordplay in France. The 1755 arrival in London of Dominico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo, better known as simply Angelo, changed all that.

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What’s in a (Hero’s) Name?

Today, Jackie Barbosa is guest blogging on hero’s names. One commenter will win a copy of her latest novella!


The hero of my new novella, Hot Under the Collar, is named Walter. Yes, Walter. To make matters worse, he’s a vicar in a small English village. Way to make things hard on myself, right? So, I bet you’re wondering why on earth I would choose such an unsexy name for my hero. Well, the truth is, it wasn’t really a choice.


You see, when I wrote the previous novella in this series, The Lesson Plan, I thought it would be the last in a loosely connected series of three shorts, two of which I’d sold to Spice Briefs (Grace Under Fire and Taking Liberties). Harlequin declined to buy all three stories, which I’d conceived and pitched together, but I figured it was worth finishing the third anyway. Once I did, I’d be finished with that “world” and move onto other things.

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The Duchesses Dish: Our First Crushes

A duchess might not kiss and tell—Wait, who am I kidding? The duchesses on this blog? We’ll totally spill.

Today’s duchess dish? Our first crushes. I know, juicy right? And in addition to some of my very favorite duchesses, I’ve also invited a special guest duchess to share all her embarrassing details.

So Duchesses, let’s hear it!


Duchess Anna Randol: Okay, this was my idea, so I’ll go first. I’ve always been a precocious child so I started my crushes young, too. My very first crush was on a boy named Trevor Beys in first grade. He was blond and played baseball. (I’m sure he had many other stellar qualities but I’ve forgotten those over the years, um, not too many years…) I remember one day there were a bunch of us girls passing out graded papers. His came up in the stack and no one wanted to give it to him because he was a boy (a known carrier of cooties). But my young love was strong enough to overcome my fear and I can still recall the thrill I had holding his paper. The funny thing is, I don’t think he was even the room for me to return it to. I think all I did was put it on his desk!

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