When the lonely, overworked Earl of Westhaven decides to stay in London for the summer rather than face more of his ducal father’s marital schemes, the last thing the earl expects is to fall in love with his pretty, secretive housekeeper. When he proposes marriage to her despite the differences in their stations, the very, very last thing he expects is for her to turn him down—repeatedly.
And yet… isn’t romance just the best? “The Heir” is available this week, my debut novel, the first in the “The Duke’s Obsession” trilogy. The earl’s brothers are next in line to earn their happily ever afters, with Devlin St. Just’s story, “The Soldier,” slated for nest summer and Lord Valentine Windham’s story, “The Virtuoso,” coming next fall. I’ll warn you now, though, the Windhams are a big family, and these fellows have FIVE unmarried sisters.
I had such fun writing this book. My hero, Gayle Tristan Montmorency Windham, first came strutting into my imagination as a supporting character in a previous manuscript that also involved His Grace, the Duke of Moreland, behaving badly. When we got all that sorted out, Westhaven arched an aristocratic eyebrow at me, and the discussion went something like this:
“I believe you’re the author, Miss Burrowes.”
“I am that.”
“I beg your pardon, your lordship. Well, what?”
“Well, I understand you to be in the business of manufacturing happily ever afters for deserving fellows like my humble and modestly attractive self. Do you intend that I suffer more of His Grace’s queer starts, or might I trouble you to write a story where I get a proper outcome for a change? One grows weary of being a supporting character, you know, particularly for the likes of Lord Amery.”
“I’ll see what I can do, your lordship.”
He went off to gallop Pericles in the park, while I scratched my head and tried to figure out what sort of woman was going to be up to his weight. For all his good looks, family loyalty, and hard work, Westhaven wasn’t exactly brimming with charm.
Then along comes Anna Seaton, a gently bred lady who, in the role of Westhaven’s housekeeper, isn’t a woman he’d expect to have to charm. Instead, she charms him. The conversation went something like this.
“Anna, I know you have troubles enough as it is, but do you suppose Westhaven has any potential in the swain department?”
She was quiet a moment while she arranged some flowers in a vase. “He’s a good man, dear in his way.”
“Yes, but is he dear enough, in the right way?”
She wrinkled her nose, her gaze going out to the gardens, where Westhaven and his two brothers were coming in from the mews. “He’s lonelier than he even knows. I understand what that’s like, and he positively dotes on his siblings. He’s going to make a first rate duke.”
“Anna Seaton, what I’m asking about has nothing at all to do with strawberry leaves.”
She smiled a little. “No, you’re more in the fig leaf line, aren’t you? I’ll consider it, but if you’ll excuse me, his lordship is likely to be both hungry and thirsty.” She bobbed a little curtsey, and something in the gleam in her eye told me I’d found Westhaven’s match.
The best thing about writing this book wasn’t typing, “The End,” nor even seeing how my characters worked out their difficulties. It wasn’t getting the Call, though that was a stellar moment. It was coming down to my computer early yesterday morning, letting the dogs out, starting the tea kettle, and finding in my email queue “The Heir”’s first piece of fan mail. Somebody derived enjoyment from my book (Hi, Lindsey!).
For so many years, as a single mom, as someone trying run her own business, as an attorney dealing every day with families in crisis, my primary consolation and coping mechanism was a well written romance novel. Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Judith Ivory, Sophia Nash, and many others ought to get invitations to my family reunions, so heavily did I rely on their wit and talent to sustain me through difficult years.
As a writer, I never want to lose sight of how significant a little piece of commercial fiction can be, just because it entertains. I want to contribute to other busy, sometimes overwhelming lives the way so many authors contributed to mine. My debut year is ending, but I hope my contributions in this regard are just beginning.