The Duke: Author’s Note
I adore epic romances. What do I mean by epic romance? It’s a story that sweeps me away and transports me to a distant time and place where I meet a hero I can fall in love with and a heroine I’ll cheer for. A story that hurls me on an emotional rollercoaster ride through dangers and against unimaginable odds, and that only when I’ve lost nearly all hope awards me with a huge, satisfying payoff: the hero and heroine win! They beat the bad guys! They’re safe, together, in love.
How did I come to be a fan of epic romances? As a girl, reading by flashlight under my bedcovers, I cut my reader’s teeth on big, thick historical novels set in faraway lands, in ancient castles and sumptuous palaces, on magnificent sailing ships and majestic horseback — novels with fantastic casts of loveably quirky characters, loads of danger, and just enough mystery to keep me turning the pages into the wee hours of the night.
Only later did I realize that at the heart of every one of my favorite epic historical novels is a gorgeous love story, a couple who falls hopelessly in love, profoundly in love, usually despite impossible circumstances and sometimes even despite themselves. Separated by war or accident or villainy, the lovers risk everything to find their way back into each other’s arms. When as a teen I got ahold of one of these treasures, with heart racing and eyes increasingly bleary, I would read and read and read until the characters got their happily ever after. Then I would bike to the library as swiftly as my ten-speed could go, to find yet another epic novel I could sink into.
I just couldn’t get enough of the lovers’ longing, the vibrantly intense emotion, the mingling of passionate expectation and pure hope that always seemed on the verge of exploding. Uncontainable. Unstoppable. Undeniable. True love at its most magnificent, courageous, daring best.
When I first planned The Duke, I had no idea it would become an epic historical novel like those I’d so avidly read in my youth: a sweeping story of true love discovered despite the odds, lost in shattering heartbreak, then at long last gloriously found again. But as I began to write Amarantha and Gabriel‘s romance, that’s what they kept insisting it must be. No single ballroom or castle or ship’s deck could contain this passion born in innocence and forged in fire. No chance! This pair needed the breadth of oceans, the expanse of mountains, and the depth of years to fight for their chance at true love.
It’s no use arguing with characters who know what they want. So I bowed to their wishes and I wrote my most sweeping romance yet. And just like at the end of an epic historical novel when the hero and heroine fly into each other’s arms, writing it felt like coming home.
p.s. For a mental picture of the passionate longing I describe above, check out the epically romantic cover of the French translation of The Duke.