Duchess By Night
Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is desperate to flee the sadness of being a widow. Whether presiding over the Shire Court of the Duchy of Berrow, or dressed as a prim Mother Goose at an extravagant masquerade ball thrown by one of her wicked friends, Harriet’s in a rut. And she’s beginning to long for something altogether different.
It’s time for a complete change of pace – she will throw off her widow’s weeds and escape…to the famously dissolute house party held at Lord Strange’s country estate? But no duchess can appear at one of Strange’s parties without risking her reputation forever. So when the Duke of Villiers offers to accompany Harriet, she jumps at the chance – even if it means disguising herself as a young man.
“James delights with seduction, surprise and humor on every page.”
~ Publishers Weekly
2009 RITA Finalist for the Historical Romance category
Number 15 on the New York Times Bestseller List
Warning! In describing relations between characters, I may wreck a book for you by making it clear who someone marries, or the outcome of a book. Please do not read about The Inside Take if you're wary of knowing who is paired with whom!
People are always praising writers for their creativity and imagination. I’m not one to turn down praise, but the fact is that many episodes in my novels have a basis in truth. When I was writing Duchess by Night, my daughter was bitten by a tick and contacted Lyme’s disease. It’s hardly as serious as rat bite fever, but I happened to be reading Robert Sullivan’s wonderful book, Rats. Before I knew it, Eugenia had rat bite fever, and I was putting all my fears for my daughter on the page.
Eloisa loves creative contests so for the release of Duchess By Night, she asked her readers to write their own Mother Goose style rhyme. If you're wondering about the Mother Goose part, read the book! Click here to read the winning entries.
In collaboration with a very talented illustrator, Eloisa created paper dolls complete with extravagant hairpieces and two Georgian fashion dresses to go along with her Desperate Duchesses, the Original Six heroines. With the template drawn only in outline so readers could DIY, Eloisa then issued a challenge: make one and send it in, and she'd have a drawing to pick the ones that fit the heroines the best.
To see all the winning dolls and more, as well as to download the template, click over to Eloisa's Design-A-Duchess Paper Doll feature.
This is the dress Eloisa selected for Harriet. Click through to see it bigger in all its wonderful detail.
Kasey discovered that I am really writing paranormal: on page 10, Harriet’s goose metamorphoses into a duck.
“…a lusciously sexy and wickedly witty tale of disguise, deception, and desire that will dazzle readers.”
~ John CharlesNOT IN
Enjoy an Excerpt
From Chapter One
In which Cinderella Dresses for the Ball
And her Fairy Godmother brings a Goose instead of a Pumpkin
January 6th (Twelfth Night), 1784
A Costume Ball
The Country Seat of the Duke of Beaumont
Nursery tales are full of fascinating widows, although they aren't always the nicest characters. Cinderella's stepmother likely put on a dazzling gown for the prince's ball, even if her daughters did inherit her big feet and sharp tongue.
Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, realized soon after her husband died that there are glamorous widows, and then there are widows who live in shoes with too many children, like poor Loveday Billing. There are widows who dance all night with younger men, and then there are dowdy widows who are offered only pinched smiles.
Harriet had no illusions about what kind of widow she was. She was the kind who lived in a shoe, and never mind the fact that she had no children and her estate was much larger than a shoe.
Her husband had been dead for two years and no younger – or older – men were lining up to ask her to dance. Most of her acquaintances still got a tragic sheen in their eyes and promptly moved away after greeting her, as if sadness was catching.
Apparently, if one's husband committed suicide, one automatically became the unappealing type of widow.
Partly it was her fault. Here she was at the Duchess of Beaumont's impromptu costume ball – but was she dressing as a glamorous character? Or even an evil one?
"Who are you?" her friend Jemma (the aforesaid Duchess of Beaumont) asked.
"A nursery rhyme character. Can you guess which one?" Harriet was wearing a motherly nightgown of plain cotton that her maid had recruited from the housekeeper. Underneath she had three petticoats, as well as four woolen stockings in her bodice. Just to show off a bit, she arched her back.
"A nursery rhyme character with big breasts,” Jemma said. “Very big breasts. Very very –"
"Motherly breasts," Harriet prompted.
"Actually you don’t look motherly as much as wildly curvaceous. The problem will be if one of our houseguests lures you into a corner and attempts a cheerful grope. Wasn't there some nursery rhyme about lighting the way to bed?"
"I'm not on my way to bed," Harriet said, somewhat deflated. “And no one ever tries to grope me. What character are you?"
Jemma's gown was made of a clear pale pink that looked wonderful with the dark gold color of her unpowdered hair. There were small silk poppies sewn all over her skirts, and poppies tucked in her hair. She managed to look elegant and yet untamed, all at once.
"Titania, Queen of the Fairies."
"I'm Mother Goose. Which fairly sums up the difference between us."
End of Excerpt
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Duchess By Night DE is part of the Desperate Duchesses, the Original Six series.
The full series reading order is as follows: