Author's Notes

The Earl: Author’s Note

I write novels the way I read novels: total immersion. This means that sometimes I stay up all night writing. Despite other tasks I must attend to (like walking the pup, sending my son to school, teaching class), sometimes I’m so deeply swept away in the rushing, raging, riotous flow of the love story that I simply cannot drag myself away until I’m literally falling asleep over the keyboard. When I’m writing a novel like this I write every moment I can, and I stay up all night… and then all day… and then all night… and then…

You get the idea.

Writing The Earl was a white-water-rapids ride like that. Why? Two reasons.

First of all, it’s a road trip story, and I adore writing road trip stories set in places I’ve fallen in love with. While researching and writing the Falcon Club series I visited Scotland several times, including twice for The Earl. On one trip I mapped a course for Lady Justice and Peregrine’s flight through the Scottish countryside from the angry mob chasing them.

The second time I went there to actually trek that route myself; I wanted to have a total sensory experience of everything about the journey, from terrain to landmarks to weather to scents, textures, tastes and sounds. Scotland is a breathtakingly beautiful country of emerald hills, ancient fortresses, lakes that reflect brilliant blue skies serrated with clouds of every hue of white and gray. Its villages boast cozy pubs and storybook perfect tearooms, its people are welcoming and warm, and its countryside and cities alike are chock full of history and laughter. I love this land, and I poured every ounce of that love into Lady Justice and Peregrine’s race across the countryside.

Secondly, by the time I began writing The Earl I had already known this heroine and hero for years. From the moment I conceived of the Falcon Club series I had been reveling in every public interaction between the fiery pamphleteer and her arrogant aristocratic critic, and growing thoroughly attached to their slow-burn enemies-to-lovers story. I knew that when they finally met in person their attraction had to be about more than the undeniably delicious friction of opposites clashing — and delectably crashing — together. It had to be about passion: the passions of desire and hurt, need and pain, tragedy and profound joy. For in planning their love story I had always known that, unbeknownst to both Lady Justice and Peregrine, the two adversaries had once long ago been childhood best friends, with a bond more powerful than any others.

Until one horrible day abruptly they weren’t.

Stepping away from writing a story like this — even for a moment — is nearly impossible.

That is how the spirit of a novel can impel me. With the landscape of Scotland inspiring me, and with my hero and heroine’s intimately entwined history to reveal, and all of their hurt to transform into healing — not to mention lust into love — once I set fingertips to keyboard to write this romance, I couldn’t stop writing until these lovers got their gloriously well deserved happily-ever-after.

The Prince: Author’s Note

The process of writing a novel can be a bit like visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Sometimes I feel like I’m flying around the twists and turns of Big Thunder Mountain, climbing to the peak only to be hurled into a ravine then abruptly thrust sky high again. At other times it’s like I’m in the Haunted Mansion, and I’ve no idea what shocking surprise will jump out at me next. Or it’s like I’m riding the Mad Tea Party cups, and I’m just spinning and spinning, laughing wildly and holding on tight till the end.

But occasionally writing a book is a different kind of adventure from those — it’s like Cinderella’s Castle, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet, and that shop with chocolate-caramel-covered apples, all combined into one.

What I mean is… sometimes it’s magic.

That’s what writing The Prince was like.

From the moment they appeared in The Rogue, I knew Libby and Ziyaeddin were meant for each other. After all, how couldn’t I bring this bright young woman totally unafraid of being entirely herself together with a man who’s got so many secrets — and so much pain in his past — that he must hide from the world behind an easel?

But even as I knew Libby and Ziyaeddin were destined to be together, I didn’t yet know how. How on earth would I tease this reclusive royal from isolation and throw him together with a brilliant commoner who despite all obstacles is determined to become a surgeon?

Then it happened: the miracle that made their story roll out before me like a red carpet.

Traveling in Scotland to research The Duke, one day I was strolling down an Edinburgh street on my way to the library when I found myself passing a grand building with a triangular pediment and majestic columns in the classical style. A sign in austere capitals on the entrance gate read: The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Another sign declared Surgeons’ Hall Museums.

I was torn. I had come to Scotland to work on The Duke, and I only had few days left. But whenever I’m writing a book, my next book is already simmering. What was I to do? Continue on to the library, or explore this tantalizing place?

I write romance, which is to say that, like my characters, I’m all about seizing the moment. I went inside.

And the miracle happened.

Inside that museum I discovered the real historical people who could so easily bring together my surgeon heroine and my portraitist hero that it seemed as though I had somehow conjured from the shadows of history the perfect people for the job. Within a few short hours my imagination was overflowing and that red carpet was unfurling, revealing to me this love story with total clarity.

Perhaps it was happenstance that I discovered Surgeons’ Hall. Or even fate. But I like to think it was magic.

Kisses, She Wrote: Author’s Note

Late one night as I was putting the finishing touches on I Married the Duke to turn it in the following day, I was thinking about the duke’s cousin, rascally rakish Camlann Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, and the awful crime he had perpetrated on his cousin, Luc, not to mention the teasing he doled out to Luc’s beloved, Arabella. And I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I had two more books to write in the series: the stories of Arabella’s sisters, and a prince to find too. I didn’t have time to be thinking about Cam. Yet as I stared at the screen he wouldn’t leave my mind alone.

You see, the problem was, I liked him. A lot. Despite the duel he instigated with Luc. Despite the untruths he allowed Arabella to believe. Rather — God forgive me! — because of them.

Because he’d done it all in love. Honest to goodness love for his cousin.

So, half asleep there at the computer in the middle of the night I mumbled, “Can a rake ever really be reformed?”

As if that weren’t enough to startle my dog out of sleep, I added a little louder, “Can a bad boy actually be… good?”

That night I barely slept. My head rested on the pillow but my thoughts were dancing around that castle in France, then in London too. A love story was growing, taking shape, a romance that would answer my questions and another one, as well, I hoped: “Can the magic of Christmas truly mend a broken heart?”

I wrote Cam’s book. And I got my answers — better answers than I ever imagined — like: people aren’t always what they seem to be on the outside.

I’m usually an organized person, a planner, with To Do lists and that sort of thing. But I’ve come to accept that there’s always a good reason a character won’t leave me alone. And I’m so grateful the magic works that way.

The Rogue: Author’s Note

Before I wrote The Rogue, I had written noblemen heroes who expertly wielded swords. But I longed to write a hero without wealth or a noble title who made his living teaching swordsmanship. Even so, my sword-fighting rogue Saint Sterling was not the original inspiration for this novel.

My father came up with this novel in a dream.

Dad had vivid dreams, and he could remember every detail of them. One evening we were relaxing in the family room before dinner (I crocheting a blanket, he doing the crossword, both of us sipping cocktails) when he began narrating to me an elaborate plot he’d dreamed the previous night. In this dream a titled Englishman gained staggering wealth in trade, then returned home to purchase a magnificent estate upon which he raised a strong, independent daughter. “Staggering wealth” and “magnificent estate” seemed to me a very good start to a romance novel. A strong, independent daughter cinched it.

Thrilled that my father was inventing exciting plots for my books while he slept, I (tossed aside the crochet and) grabbed a notepad, and scribbled down the dream.

I lost the notepad. (Possibly. It could be buried in a sock drawer.) But for more than a decade I carried the details of that dream in my imagination. And those bits of story grew. They became a rich world of lifelong friendship, horrible tragedy, shadowy intrigue, and above all passionate love. The estate became Fellsbourne, the home of the Marquess of Doreé, who promised his son in marriage to the strong, independent daughter of his closest friend, the Scottish Duke of Read.

But that daughter, Constance, was not content playing by the rules of these powerful, controlling men. She had other ideas. Other desires. Like learning how to wield a gleaming length of steel.

Both The Rogue and In the Arms of a Marquess arose from the world inspired by my father’s dream. If Dad were still here, I think he would be proud of these two truly honorable heroes and the strong, independent women to whom they lose their hearts.

As for Constance’s lessons in swordsmanship, and the real live sword fighting research I did to write those, well that’s a story for another day…