The Earl Next Door: Author’s Notes

Third Time’s the Charm

The Earl Next Door was the third manuscript I ever wrote, but my first published book. An early draft of the manuscript finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest in 2014. A perk of finalling is the opportunity to pitch to editors, and I sat down with Chelsey Emmellhainz from Avon to describe the story of an American heiress and her home-renovation project from hell. She asked to see the full manuscript and six weeks later, she offered me a contract.

And Then We Took an Unplanned Turn Towards Athens

The intrigue involving Joseph Straka in the final half of the book was added in revisions. My editor felt we needed an 11th-hour layer of conflict when Jocelyn’s love story was removed.

Trevor’s early life of crime in Greece was always a part of his character, so it was easy to flesh out the Greek mafioso who descends on London to menace Piety. Not so easy: figuring out how to get rid of Straka after he had been introduced. As my revision deadline loomed, “Adios’ing Straka” became a plotting quagmire from which I thought I might never get free. Finally, it was my mother who off-handedly said to me: “Why doesn’t he just go to jail?”

And the plan to trap Straka in his own game and send him to jail was born. Keep it simple, Sweets.

“I love this heroine, and I never say that!”

I have received this reader comment about Piety Grey more than once, and it is so gratifying. I, too, love Piety. I wish I had her courage and optimism and openness. Piety is the quintessential old-school heroine that feels like the loveliest version of aspirational me on my best day.

The character of Piety is loosely inspired by the character of Taylor Townsend in the TV show “The O.C.” I was a huge fan of the show and especially of the character of Taylor. Autumn Reeser, the actress who portrayed this character, was the image I used for Piety in my head as I wrote.

They’ve Still Got It

It was my great pleasure to revisit Piety and Trevor in my fifth book, All Dressed in White, in a lengthy scene that shows them happy and healthy and as mentors to the couple in that book. Writing the scene between an all-grown-up Joseph Chance and a middle-aged Falcondale was one of my favorites of all time.

Hyperbole, Thy Name is Limpett

Eli, Ennis, Everett, Emmett and Eddie Limpett, heirs to the New York City stocking empire. What can I say? If not in a romance novel, then where? If not to attack the heroine in a church and receive a beating from the hero, then for what other purpose? None, I tell you, none!


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