Recently, there’s been yet another discussion about accuracy and “wallpaper historicals” on a message board, so I thought I’d tell you my story.
I wrote a book called NOBLESSE OBLIGE (well that was the title it ended up with!) about a shy man and the lady he fell in love with, a lady’s companion. The duke in the story isn’t a go-getting alpha, but a nice man, the kind you marry after dating the other kind for a few years. The heroine wasn’t kick-butt, but knew where she stood in life and what she had to do to make a living. I liked her, because her practicality went much further than mere defiance. Her mistress was a wealthy slut, and as soon as the hero hove in view, she went after him, using my heroine as her go-between.
The story was set in Yorkshire, beginning in Scarborough, continuing to York and going on to a stately home remarkably like Castle Howard, but set a few miles further North, near Harrogate.
I sent this book off to a
Well I tried, I really did. But in the end I couldn’t do it all. The hero turned before my eyes into the cardboard love-em-and-leave-em alpha, the heroine, while not the daughter of a duke (I just couldn’t do that!) turned into the kind of woman who wouldn’t have lasted five minutes as a lady’s companion. The subplot with the mistress turned into the usual stuff about jealousy and misunderstanding.
I couldn’t stand it.
However, the publisher helped me with one thing. The editor told me to ‘up the sexual tension’ and although I know that is one of the knee-jerk requests they often make, I looked carefully at it, and they were definitely right in this case. So I teased a little more.
Well, I couldn’t do the revisions, so I sent the book elsewhere. And damme, I got the same response!
So if you wonder why there are so many books which have the alpha duke meeting the feisty titian-haired heroine, and a plot that stumbles over big misunderstandings, to a background of riding in Hyde Park, going to balls at Almack’s and London mansions (huh?
I can't say they're wrong, because until recently, these were the books that sold. But I've never been in it just for the money. If I'd written a book about a duke's daughter and an alpha hero, I would have been proud of it, but I hadn't. Not in this case, anyway.
By the way, I’m very glad Champagne Books decided to take the book as it is,