Caroline, the popular widowed Countess of Stratton, has no wish to remarry. But when the brilliant, reclusive Duke of Wyverne—her counterpart in an old scandal—returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled as ever.
Michael must save his family fortunes by wedding an heiress, but Caroline vowed that she would never sell herself in marriage again. The only way she can keep him near is to help him find the wealthy bride he requires.
As she guides him through society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart again. But if she pursues the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the life that she holds dear. And if Michael, who has everything to lose, ever hopes to win her hand, he must open his long-shuttered heart.
Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.
Theresa is very, very happy to be represented by the very, very awesome Paige Wheeler of Folio Literary Management.
The Worst Things about the Hero of To Charm a Naughty Countess
Aislynn, thank you for inviting me to join you at Stitch-Read-Cook today! I’m excited to talk a bit about the hero of my newest historical romance, TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS.
I thought about sharing some of my favorite things about my hero—but honestly, most historical romance heroes are great. They’re handsome, they’re confident, they usually have pots of money, and by the end of the book they’re devoted to the heroine.
Michael, the Duke of Wyverne, isn’t that kind of hero. Instead, he is stuffed with terrible qualities. Allow me to explain.
1. He has the worst manners in all of London.
Maybe this is understandable. You’d have pretty bad manners too, if you’d stayed away from all social contact for eleven years and knew London society thought you were insane. No patience for chitchat about the weather, no idea when to bring a gift to a lady, and no concern for whether or not “the middle of a social call” is the right time to repair a chair or take apart a lamp.
2. He is arrogant…except for when he’s anxious.
Born the heir to a dukedom, Michael is sure of his own judgment. Anyone who disagrees with him is, therefore, wasting his time. (This might go with the manners thing.) But when he ventures into crowds, a long-hidden social anxiety kicks in. Naturally, he copies by acting more arrogant. Seriously, this guy is terrible at parties. TERRIBLE.
3. He has no idea when to quit.
Michael is enthralled by mechanical innovations, and he improves his Lancashire dukedom’s moorlands with irrigation canals. He researches the new technologies of steam power and gaslight. And then, when “the Year Without a Summer” (a real-life event in the year 1816) ruins his crops and livelihood, what is his reaction? It’s certainly not to back away from the untried innovations that make his creditors nervous. Nope. It’s to venture to London to find himself a wealthy bride who can pull his dukedom out of poverty.
You can imagine how that goes, because of the whole “worst manners in London” thing.
4. Did I mention he has no idea when to quit?
Since he has no concern for society’s opinion, you might be wondering why he stayed away from London so long. The reason? Caroline, Lady Stratton. Eleven years earlier, Michael and the socially brilliant Caroline became involved in a teensy little scandal. For the first time, he lost the control that kept his social anxieties at bay—and he withdrew to Lancashire, determined to lock down ever harder on his control. Caroline, faced with ruin, made a marriage of convenience. Now a widow who relishes her independence, she is the only person in London who doesn’t think Michael insane. She’s the only person who can help him find a bride. And she’s the only woman he wants—or has ever wanted.
He can’t win her over with logic and arrogance. She has no use for his title, and she doesn’t intend to surrender her fortune. But her heart? That’s been his for a long time, if he could only figure out how to give her his.
* * *
As you can probably tell, I actually do like Michael. He might not be a great guy at a party, but he’s honest and forthright and faithful and creative. (Hmm. Maybe I should have focused my list on those things instead.) When he and Caroline meet up again, the rakish but lonely widow and the awkward duke wind up in a gender-flipped Pygmalion story, in which she molds his manners to guide him through society. And, of course, they help each other get stronger in ways they never expected.
Readers, thanks for visiting today! Please feel free to ask me about Michael’s other terrible qualities (there are many!) or anything else you’d like to know about TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS. And be sure to leave a comment, because a copy of TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS is up for grabs to one randomly chosen US/Canada reader!