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Org Header: About Eloisa's Books
Wilde Denial wrapped up with the installment that Eloisa sent out with Say No to the Duke, but that wasn’t The End! Eloisa’s editor read it and loved the story so much she demanded that Eloisa write more until the “novella” hit 200 pages!
That story, now renamed My Last Duchess, was published on Oct. 27, 2020.
And while you may have read a lot of it (or none at all), no one has yet read it through to Happily Ever After (except for Eloisa and her editor).
It’s a present for all my readers who loved the Essex Sisters—my series about four Scottish girls who find themselves orphaned and under the care of a drunken, rascally duke. But in reality, you don’t need to have read those books—or remember them—to enjoy this book.
Do you love history? The Companion includes essays about fashion, newspapers, gambling, theater and more.
Do you love my novellas? There’s a novella here that you can’t get elsewhere! “A Midsummer Night’s Disgrace” is pure pleasure in a small package—the story of a young lady who’s made up her mind to rebel!
Are you interested in how romance novels are constructed? I wrote a 100-page essay that traces this series from its very first idea right through editing, copyediting, making the cover, and more.
Are you curious what the first version of Kiss Me, Annabel looks like? Here, for the very first time, is a 140-page alternate ending to this popular novel. It’s the novel the way I initially constructed it—a passionate, darker version of the novel you can read in publication. Read them both and see which one you like best!
So, in short, the Companion is over 500 pages of fascinating fiction and history, the perfect gift for a writer, reader, or yourself!
I spread little updates about the orphans throughout the scenes following the orphanage chapter.
“How are the orphans doing now?” Villiers asked, breaking into the cool little silence that followed Lisette’s speech…
“Oh, very well!” Lisette replied. “The baker’s wife from the village has moved in temporarily. The committee is going to hire a new director.”
By the treasure hunt, the orphans are already much happier (and better fed), and the ladies’ orphanage committee has gathered:
The lawn was already dotted with the white gowns of the orphanage ladies, their lacy parasols making them look like daisies, viewed from above. The orphans in their blue pinafores were darting and running about and Eleanor didn’t think it was her imagination that they already looked heartier.
Finally, I wanted to remove the orphanage from Lisette’s neighborhood altogether, so later Eleanor is found writing a letter:
Eleanor looked up from a note she was writing to Lisette, commiserating over the fact the orphanage was being moved to another county entirely, when Villiers entered the room and closed the door behind him.
I assure you that the orphans were very well cared for, and that Eleanor and Leo never forgot about them. Indeed, they watched over that particular set of orphans throughout their lives, because without those orphans they would never have found the twins, nor—arguably—each other…
Some of them do! The Duke of Villiers has appeared in 9 books—all 6 of the original Desperate Duchesses series as well as the 3 By the Numbers series. He’s still a flamboyant dresser and loves playing Cupid. Talking of Villiers, his son Juby from the DD series renamed himself Thorn, grew up into a shrewd businessman, and fell in love in Three Weeks with Lady X. He’s not the only child from my books to break into his own book. In Seven Minutes in Heaven, Eugenia, the eccentric little girl in Duchess by Night, grows up and encounters Teddy, who appeared as a storytelling youngster in Desperate Duchesses.
Another book-hopping pair is Josie and her husband the Earl of Mayne. Mayne first appeared in the Duchess in Love series. Readers loved him so much that I brought him back into the Essex Sisters series, and he finally falls in love in Pleasure for Pleasure. He and his wife Josie are huge reader favorites—so they show up in two novellas as well! One short story can be found in The Essex Sisters Companion, and another (in which you meet their daughter!) is “A Gentleman Never Tells”.
In addition, lots of minor characters make appearances here and there. I put all kinds of insider information in the Connected Books section or in the Book Extras section of each book page. Are you a Julia Quinn reader? Keep an eye out for her characters showing up in the By the Numbers books! (Mine appeared in a few of her books too, as well as a shout-out to pineapples that references My American Duchess).
The reason there’s no chess in the book has to do with Villiers’s own development: He started out the series completely obsessed by chess, and using the game as a substitute for intimacy and sex (thus the chess games with Jemma). He fell in love with Jemma through chess; we could even say because of her chess ability. Therefore, it was important that in the process of the books he move away from that substitution of chess for life, and toward an understanding of how important intimacy and love is. He got a fever and nearly died; he had a break from playing; and then there’s the signal game with Jemma when he doesn’t even care if he wins (she can’t believe it). That’s the turning point for Villiers: when he’s more absorbed in his children than playing a chess game. That’s why I couldn’t put a chess/sex game in his own novel: because he had to fall in love with Eleanor without a whiff of chess around. At the end I made it clear that she could play, just so they could have fun in the future… but their relationship had nothing to do with that sort of winning & losing.
Yes, he did! Garret Langham began as a secondary character in the Duchess series. (Duchess in Love, Fool for Love, A Wild Pursuit and Your Wicked Ways). Readers adored him and begged for more, so he continued into the Essex Sisters quartet (Much Ado About You, Kiss Me, Annabel, The Taming of the Duke and Pleasure for Pleasure). Mayne is so beloved, he even had his own fan club, the Bon Bons! Pleasure for Pleasure is Mayne’s story, in which he finds his own happily ever after.
Mayne-iacs will be happy to know that the Earl of Mayne and his wife, Josie, make appearances in two novellas! “A Midsummer Night’s Disgrace” which can be found in the Official Essex Sister Companion Guide. And then also in the novella “A Gentleman Never Tells“.
How I wish I could give every character a happy ending! But alas, there just isn’t enough time. And truthfully, by the time a novel publishes, I’m already deep into a new story with different characters, and it’s hard to think my way back to a world that I’ve left behind. That said, if you look on the book pages of the novel you’re thinking about, the Inside Take will tell you whether I wrote a novella for any of the minor characters. I have a tendency to do that when I can—“Seduced by a Pirate” is connected to The Ugly Duchess; “Storming the Castle” is connected to A Kiss at Midnight; and I’m in the process of writing a story that sprung from My American Duchess right now. Come by Facebook and tell me who you’d like to read more about, and who knows? I may do it!
I tried to write a contemporary once and it was terrible. My baseball player’s trash talk was more suited to a Regency Duke at Almack’s! A few years ago I did write a travel memoir, Paris in Love, based on the year my family and I lived in Paris. Who knows where my muse will take me in the future!