American Heiresses/ English Dukes

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This week Donna MacMeans shares her research with us.

One of the things I love about writing is how everything you’ve done, every place you visit, inspires stories. The stories might not be immediate, but they percolate in the brain until they fit with the perfect storyline. That’s the way it worked for me with The Seduction of a Duke.

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Marble House

Years ago, my niece planned a wedding by a lighthouse in Rhode Island. We piled the kids and luggage in the car and planned to arrive at our destination a few days early so we could explore on our own. Do you ever do that? We discovered that back in the gilded age, the Vanderbilts and the Astors, along with others of high society’s “the “400,” would leave New York City in the summer to take up residence in a “summer cottage” in Newport Beach, RI. The lavish mansions were the playground of the rich, and the perfect setting for the beginning of The Seduction of a Duke. The mansion in this photo is The Marble House built to resemble the Petit Trianon at Versailles which was commissioned by the Vanderbilts.

My story is based on Consuelo Vanderbilt who was forced to marry the Duke of Marlborough because her mother wanted an English title in the family. The Duke wanted access to the heiress’s fortune, so much so that he married her twice: once in the United States, the bride’s home, then again in England so there would be no question about the legitimacy of the nuptials. As an American, Consuelo had a hard time adjusting to life in England. I drew heavily upon her autobiography, The Glitter and the Gold. Alas, Consuelo’s was not a happy marriage. She divorced the duke after she bore him an heir and a spare. My hero and heroine fare much better and have a happily ever after (but I kept the double marriage.)

Seduction-of-a-Duke-final-for-Barnes-and-Noble-200x300 Books Guest Author You see, my hero assumed my heroine was pregnant and quickly needed a husband. She denied this, of course, but he assumed she would lie to protect her interests. He decides to withhold consummation of the marriage until he knew for certain that his new wife wasn’t pregnant. His concern was not being an unintended father, he just wanted to know if he truly was the father. My heroine, however, had been informed tha a condition in the marriage contract existed to allow her to return to her longed-for America to raise her children should she become pregnant. My heroine is doing everything in her power to seduce her duke. Oh – check out that corset on the cover. That’s based on a real leather corset in the V & A museum in England. How’s that for research!

Buy links and a bargain!

The Seduction of a Duke is the second book in the Chamber’s Trilogy

The first book in the trilogy, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, is on sale this week for .99 at

Donna_MacMeans Books Guest Author About the Author

For the first four months of the year, I’m a mild-mannered certified public accountant with a small tax practice. But come April 16th, I rip off the green eyeshade and transform into an impassioned writer of sexy historical romance novels, paranormals and romantic suspense. I live in Central Ohio with my wonderful husband of many, many years. My two adult children live close by with visiting dogs, fish, and even a pet snail named Killer. When I’m not knee deep in tax returns, or typing away on another manuscript, I’m active in several writing organizations. Every now and then, I break out my acrylic paints or pastels for a different creative venue, but of the two, I find writing to be not quite as messy. I love to cook (but hate to clean up). My desserts have a reputation of always incorporating chocolate and alcohol in some intoxicating fashion.

I started writing fiction in 1996. Although I loved to read historical romance, the thought of research was too intimidating for me to attempt. I wrote two contemporary romantic suspense novels – one of which was eventually published by Samhain publications under the pen name Donna Richards (it’s about a CPA, go figure).

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My third manuscript, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, won the coveted Golden Heart medallion for Best Long Historical Manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America ® in 2006. Penguin Books, Berkley Sensation imprint, purchased that book and launched my published author career.

My books have been translated in Japanese, Dutch, and Norwegian. They’ve won multiple awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Historical Love & Laughter, the Aspen Gold and More Than Magic. They’ve been finalists for the Maggies, the Holt Medallion, the Lories, the Prism, and Book Buyers Best. I’ve presented workshops to various chapters of RWA, Sisters in Crime, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. I love talking to book clubs and readers across the country. If you’re interested in having me speak to your group, please contact me here or on Facebook.

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Caroline Warfield, Author

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