Extra Type: Bonus Features

Cutting a Book in Half

Historical romances typically run anywhere from 75,000 words long to 100,000 words. As originally written, The Earl Next Door, sprawled to an eye-watering 160,000 words long.

I look back now and marvel that my first editor took a chance on such an over-written book and worked with me to cut it down.

Besides the rookie mistake of simply being over-written, the book contained two full love stories: Piety + Trevor as the main hero and heroine, but also Jocelyn Breedlowe + a carpenter who was axed in revisions.

How I Named the Bachelor Lords Series

When I was negotiating the contract for The Earl Next Door, I pitched two other books that would tie together to become the Bachelor Lords of London trilogy. I used the through-line of bachelors all living on the same street in London and pitched an old manuscript—literally a book that had been sitting under my bed for the last five years—as a potential second book, The Virgin and the Viscount. Book 3, One for the Rouge, was made up on the spot. It all happened on a call with my editor as I spun the trilogy out of thin air.

The Virgin and the Viscount required a few plot and setting changes and some new characters to connect, but I have loved the way the all three books fit together in the end. The uniting element of the London Street (Henrietta Place) certainly links the books technically, but the heart of the connection in my mind are the characters of Lady Frinfrock and Jocelyn Breedlowe.

Miss Breedlowe’s Sideline Romance (on the Cutting-Room Floor)

As first written, ten years before it ever saw the light of day, The Virgin and the Viscount contained a secondary romance between Rainsleigh’s brother Beau and a sideline character named Justice Monroe. When I folded V&V into the Bachelor Lords universe, this subplot was cut for length and focus.

Justice was initially Elisabeth’s sidekick and confidant, a former prostitute who scaled the side of Denby House to reach Elisabeth’s bedroom and scheme brothel raids. When Justice was cut, much of her function was given to Jon Stoker. And Stoker, you will see, is still scaling walls some fifteen years later in his own book, You May Kiss the Duke.

Beau was too delicious to cut and is largely unchanged from his first appearance in the original draft of V&V to his own book, One for the Rogue.

My Favorite Type of Hero

Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh (of The Virgin and the Viscount), is my favorite kind of hero, a hard-assed, serious, goal-oriented leader, with confidence and command, but also chinks in his armor and a gap in his life. He is silently begging to be tormented and tempted and undone by an irreverent woman who holds his tortured heart in her hands.

The prologue of this book, which describes Rainsleigh’s wretched boyhood, the neglect of his parents, his stewardship to his brother, and his tireless work is some of my favorite writing I’ve ever done. Rainsleigh was fully formed in my mind by the time I finished this prologue.

I relished the opportunity to go back and glimpse Rainsleigh as a teenager in the brothel flashback.

For a visual image when I crafted Rainsleigh, I thought of singer Sam Hunt.

In Defense of a Crusader Heroine

When writing Elisabeth Courtland (of The Virgin and the Viscount), I tried to be mindful of not casting her as a so-called “crusader” heroine. For whatever reason, the industry has been known to frown upon crusaders. In fact, old tip sheets from publishers used to said, “No crusader heroines.”

But I felt Elisabeth had two choices when she survived the murder of her parents and her days in the brothel, she could either remain mute and emotionally scarred forever, or she could find her voice and fight back. Elisabeth found her voice and fought. But I tried to focus on the personal part of her work, which was rehabilitating rescued prostitutes, planning brothel raids with her band of teenaged renegades, and running her foundation.

I tried to make her confident and bold but also gentle and funny; a pragmatic realist who was also joyful and liked to have a good time. I was inspired partly by the character of Charlotte Dalrymple in a film called Hysteria starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, although the physical image in my mind’s eye was of dark-red hair, olive skin, and freckles.