Today I have a guest post from author Anabelle Bryant.
Duchess If You Dare
From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city’s grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting–and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them–even into the arms of unexpected love. This feminist take on Regency-era Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant is destined to storm readers’ hearts!
Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues–and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other–if she can resist the attraction that draws them together…
As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. When the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger–and lead them to search their hearts like never before…
Let’s Hear it for the Heroine
Years ago, when I began reading historical romance, it was all about the hero. I was swept away by the courtship, drawn in by the passion and anxiously awaiting the moment when the hero solved all problems and kissed the heroine for a happily ever after ending.
It didn’t take long before my focus changed. I resented how the heroine just waited and wallowed, hoping the hero would make her life complete. There seemed to be a pattern in novel after novel and well, it got on my last nerve.
That thought more than any other became my motivation to write a romance novel. I refused to accept that every female was incapable of action and only composed of fragile emotion. Where was her determination, intelligence and ingenuity? Why didn’t she go after what she wanted instead of waiting for the hero to offer her happiness? It wasn’t like those qualities weren’t alive in history. Think Cleopatra or Boudica if you need a reminder.
As my writing evolved, so did my heroines. All of my women are strong and smart. While they are true to the time period, they also have their own purpose and strength. They may have been born into a world without equal footing and referred to as the weaker sex, but my heroines rescue the hero as much as he rescues them back.
Writing Scarlett’s story in DUCHESS IF YOU DARE was freeing and exciting. She’s the strongest and most unconventional heroine I’ve ever written. As a member of the Maidens of Mayhem, she’s often in the path of danger, but she doesn’t cower. And when it comes to loving the duke…well, let’s just say she’s the one who puts him in his place first.
It was a delicate balance to keep historically accurate and also incorporate a more independent female. I’m not trying to make a statement about female empowerment or lecture the reader about equality. That’s not my purpose or intention. Reading is first and foremost about entertainment and escape.
Instead, I wanted to present a woman without the opportunities and pampering of a lifestyle made easy by wealth. Scarlett lives in a time when the class lines are very distinct. She’s far from an aristocratic lady, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t yearn for love, acceptance and happiness. That’s a message for all time. Everyone with goodness in their heart deserves love and kindness.
And Aylesford, the duke, gets an unexpected education. Being a teacher, I couldn’t help but school him a little. Not so much in the act of falling in love, although deep down he wants that just as much as Scarlett, but more so about awareness. It’s easy to ignore the hardships and misfortune of others if you keep yourself in a gilded box.
Ultimately, I hoped to write a novel about overcoming obstacles and Scarlett and Aylesford are faced with several. Emotionally, physically, through their beliefs and history, as well as conventions of the Regency period – not to mention the imminent dangers they confront throughout the novel as they attempt to solve their problems.
DUCHESS IF YOU DARE is a fun, romantic, unexpected story. It checks all the boxes for steamy love scenes, flirtatious banter and a heartfelt happily ever after, but don’t expect Scarlett to be your typical heroine. She has so much more to her undeniable spirit! I hope you enjoy her path to love.
USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn’t want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?
Anabelle’s books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn’t all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master’s Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education.
A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn’t provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do. Visit her website at AnabelleBryant.com