I can’t believe it’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for this day for months and months, checking my calendar daily to see it creep inexorably closer. And now it’s June 1st and my new book, The Making of a Duchess, is in stores.
This book has actually been several years in the making. I remember when I first got the idea for the story. I was walking through downtown Houston to the baseball stadium with my husband in the Spring of 2008. I have no idea who was playing—the Astros and someone—and he was talking about who was pitching and who was hitting well. I was half paying attention until he told me to watch out. There on the sidewalk was a dead rat.
Yuck, right? I’m sure I gave the requisite squeal and shied away, and then I started thinking about the French Revolution. I have no idea why a dead rat should trigger thoughts of the French Revolution, maybe because so many aristocrats were imprisoned in dirty, rat-infested jail cells. But I remember wondering what it must have been like for those who lived through the Revolution. Were they shocked when the Reign of Terror began or had they seen the storm clouds on the horizon? Were mothers and fathers able to protect their children? What did the children think?
And just like that in my mind I saw the face of a small boy battling a group of blood-thirsty peasants with only a pitchfork. And that was the beginning of my story. I sat down and wrote the first chapter the next day. The Making of a Duchess is the story of Julien Harcourt, duc de Valére. When he’s a child, Julien’s family chateau is attacked by bloodthirsty peasants. He and his mother escape to England, leaving his younger brothers behind to an unknown fate. As an adult, Julien uses all his time and resources to search for his brothers. His frequent trips back to france, England’s enemy, raises the eyebrows of the British government. They send in a spy, and that’s where the fun begins…
Here’s a short excerpt…
Julien bolted upright, tossing the bedclothes aside and rushing to the window beside the bed. He threw aside the heavy velvet draperies and stared into the night. As the eldest of three sons, he had his choice of rooms, and his overlooked the chateau’s courtyard. Normally, it was a pretty picture, lined with benches and planted with dozens of flowers. In July, those flowers burst into swaths of red and yellow and pink. As none but the gardeners typically ventured into the courtyard, Julien was certain he was one of the few to enjoy the view.
Tonight the deserted courtyard swelled with people. Peasants shouting and brandishing torches streamed into the square. Julien couldn’t understand what they shouted, but he understood what was coming.
He turned, ran for his armoire, and pulled out a pair of breeches. Quickly, he shoved his legs into them and rammed his nightshirt in at the waist. Where were his shoes? He should have listened to his nanny and put them away. Julien fell to his knees, searching.
He heard windows breaking now, heard the shouts growing louder, and knew some of the peasants had overpowered the servants and were inside the chateau. In Paris, his parents had tried to shield him from the rumors of unrest among the lower classes, but he’d heard anyway.
Unspeakable things—things he didn’t want to think about.
There was another crash and a shout.
Mort à l'aristocratie! That was what the peasants had shouted in Paris before they had torn the nobles apart—massacring them. Every last one, even the babies had been butchered. He had not seen it happen, but he had heard. He eavesdropped on his parents and their friends talking and knew about the fall of the Bastille and the uprisings in the streets. His father told his little brothers this trip to the country was for rest and relaxation, but Julien knew the truth.
And now the truth was inside his home.
I hope you’ll put The Making of a DuchessS on your summer reading list. The launch is definitely the most exciting thing happening to me this summer. What about you? Anything exciting planned for your summer?