Lord of Scoundrels & Bertie's Overworked Porter

This year, Avon Books celebrate their Diamond Anniversary. Among other events and activities, each month they highlight a  "classic" Avon title. It started in January with Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower. February was Johanna Lindsey's Gentle Rogue. March was Julia Quinn's Dancing at Midnight. April highlighted Rachel Gibson's Simply Irresistible. May starred my hero Susan Elizabeth Phillips's It Had To Be You. (She made me care about football!!!)

June is—as you may have deduced, what with this blog post and all—my Lord of Scoundrels. Avon will be doing a read/reread-along, as well as offering the eBook for $1.99 for the entire month of June (with apologies to readers outside North America, the offer applies to the U.S. and Canada only).

As I try to do from time to time, I'll offer a few background notes on the book. With Lord of Scoundrels, it's quite an experience, since I wrote the book before I had access to the Internet, and well before Google and others started scanning and posting online the ancient tomes I had to go into the bowels of libraries to find. And they were not searchable! You turned crusty, dusty pages, looking for what you wanted in magazine collections, for instance, that were not indexed.

So, when I installed a porter in the apartment building in Paris in which Bertie Trent lives at the story's start, I depended mainly on Frances Trollope’s Paris and the Parisians in 1835.** As is normally the case in travel writings, the author’s attitudes and prejudices color her observations. I try to give my English characters similar viewpoints, though I may tone them down a bit, so as not to jar my readers too much. It's always a balancing act, finding a happy medium between 19th and 21st century outlooks. I want to use a little of  the "foreigners are not as cool as we are" attitude, both for comic effect and because that outlook is hardly unheard of today. But a little goes a long way.

I do think Ms. Trollope is fairly balanced in this particular context. From what I've read elsewhere, the position of the apartment building porter entailed a great deal more than that of the porter in a large English establishment, where many other servants, especially footmen, were available to perform various tasks. But read for yourself—and you may want to go on reading, by clicking on the link below to this section of Paris and the Parisians, now online.


Another accommodation which habit has made it extremely difficult for French families to dispense with, and which can be enjoyed at an easy price only by sharing it with many, is a porter and a porter's lodge. Active as is the race of domestic servants in Paris, their number must, I think, be doubled in many families, were the arrangement of the porter's lodge to be changed for our system of having a servant summoned etime a parcel, a message, a letter, or a visit arrives at the house.

Nor does the taking charge of these by any means comprise the whole duty of this servant of many masters; neither am I at all competent to say exactly what does: but it seems to me that the answer I generally receive upon desiring that anything may be done is, " Oui, madame, le portier ou la portiere fera cela;" and were we suddenly deprived of these factotums, I suspect that we should be immediately obliged to leave our apartments and take refuge in an hôtel, for I should be quite at a loss to know what or how many additional "helps" would be necessary to enable us to exist without them.—Frances Trollope, Paris and the Parisians in 1835, Letter XXXVI.

Images: Parisian Porter from James Jackson Jarves’ Parisian Sights and French Principles: Seen Through American Spectacles (1853). Street scene: Eduard Gaertner, Rue Neuve Notre Dame à Paris, 1826.


New Audio: Your Scandalous Ways and Don't Tempt Me

Spring brings two fresh audio releases—and these, I believe, make for a complete audio collection of my books.

Once again, the talented Kate Reading gives voice to my stories, this time to my two standalone Fallen Women books.

Now available for your listening pleasure are

Your Scandalous Ways and Don’t Tempt Me.


If you, like many of my readers, wonder what the clothes or furnishings or houses in my stories look, like, please check out my Pinterest page. Though I don’t add to it as regularly as would be possible if I could clone myself, I do stop in from time to time with fresh material. Here on the website blog, a search of the Inspiration category, book tags, "behind the scenes," and "historical illustrations," will offer more information and images.

Because I am an incurable history nerd. 


Historical Myth Workshop in Burlington, Massachusetts

Image: A Correct View of the New Machine For Winding Up the Ladies 1830 (prob by Wm Heath), Courtesy Wellcome Images via Wikipedia.

Were our ancestors short? Did they brush their teeth? Did women have ribs removed to shrink their waists? Were there colonies of living creatures residing in the big hair of Marie Antoinette’s time? 

One thing I’ve learned in the course of my research, and as a member of the Two Nerdy History Girls blogging team, is that history is slippery stuff. We’ve discovered that some of the things we were taught in history classes could use some serious reexamination if not outright deletion. And many of the “facts” we’ve always taken to be, well, factual, might be the stuff that dreams are made on. 

Being willing to stick our necks out, Isabella and I have decided to take a bit of our Two Nerdy History Girls show on the road, and see what happens when we hold up some cherished historical beliefs for analysis. We hope rotten tomatoes will not be thrown, but there’s always that chance.

In any event, we’re committed, and here are the facts:

Workshop: Is It True? The Two Nerdy History Girls Bust a Historical Myth or Two
Romance Writers of America New England Chapter 2016 Conference
Open to attendees only

Conference dates are 29-30 April 2016

Boston Marriott
One Burlington Mall Road
Burlington MA 01803

We’ll also be signing books at the Book Fair for Literacy
Saturday 30 April
Open to the public

Vero Beach Author Event

If you’re in the area later this month, I hope you’ll stop by and say Hello at our author event in Vero Beach, Florida. 

You'll find me mingling and signing books with Avon Historical Romance superstars Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Caroline Linden.

Sunday 20 March


Vero Beach Book Center
325 Miracle Mile
Vero Beach FL 32960

Update: above is the address of the shopping plaza where the bookstore is located. Your GPS may like the Book Center's specific address better:

392 21st St
Vero Beach FL 32960

 Hope to see you there!

Dukes Prefer Blondes Now Available for UK/AU/NZ

Things happened more quickly than expected, and some of my readers were ahead of me on this.

I’m delighted to report that my readers in the UK/AU/NZ can now download Dukes Prefer Blondes to their Kindles. Ebooks for other digital readers—iBooks, Kobo, GooglePlay, etc.—will take a bit longer, but you can expect them to be available within two weeks.

Thanks to Corinne & Sue for the early warning system! And thank you all for your patience & loyalty. My readers are the best!