Friday, November 22, 2019

Forever My Duke

It’s my pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author Olivia Drake to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about continuing her Unlikely Duchesses series with FOREVER MY DUKE (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; December 31, 2019), a clash of cultures in which an English Duke sets his sights on an independent-minded American woman.

          Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She’s the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife—an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom.
But Natalie doesn’t have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn’t care less about Hadrian’s title. After all, it’s not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can’t understand what it’s like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives.
Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him…despite his being a duke?

Now please join me in welcoming Olivia as she answers some questions for me about this delightful book and series. Welcome, Olivia.

What inspires you to write in this genre?

When I was in third grade, I penned a story about triplets who get lost in a cave. It was utterly forgettable--but a writer was born! Then, in high school, I went through a brooding poet stage and scribbled verse during study hall. In college, my love for English-set novels was sparked by authors like Victoria Holt, Jane Austen, Mary Stewart, and Georgette Heyer. After working for a few years in the corporate world, I decided that I’d much rather spend my days making up my own romance stories.

Why write a story set in London instead of Texas?

There’s something about the beautiful fashions, the fine manners, and the glamor of the English nobility that intrigues me. It’s a world of princes and dukes, jewels and estates, the stuff of girlish dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good cowboy story, just as I enjoy reading suspense novels and murder mysteries. But when it comes to writing a book, I’m most fascinated by the elegant world of nineteenth century English aristocracy.

Do you have certain rituals that you follow when writing - like particular time, place, music, etc.?

When my two daughters were young, I stuck to a 9-4 workday while they were in school. But at heart, I’m a night owl. Now that I can set my own hours, I find that I do my best writing from 6 in the evening until midnight.  There’s something about it being dark outside that inspires my creativity!

What are the favorite three things you like about your two main characters in this story?

Hadrian, the Duke of Clayton, has a lofty view of how a man of his high rank should behave. To that purpose, he’s decided to wed a blue-blooded young lady who will be the perfect duchess – or so he thinks. But on his journey across England to make his offer to her, Hadrian encounters Natalie Fanshawe, a free-spirited American who turns his world upside down. I love writing about a hero who’s knocked off-kilter by a woman who challenges his long-held beliefs. 

It was also great fun to put an American heroine in a Regency England setting. Natalie is no wealthy heiress, either. She’s hard-working, independent, and plucky, with a definite preference for America’s system of equality over England’s class hierarchy. The last thing she wants is to marry an English duke, which made for a very interesting conflict! 

My favorite kind of romance is when a man falls so deeply in love that he’s willing to change and grow in order to win the heroine. Once Hadrian is smitten, he has to convince Natalie that they’re well-suited. In turn, she must revise her dislike of the nobility in order to be with the man she comes to love with all her heart and soul.  

Here’s a teaser:
She drew a shaky breath.  “Outward appearances cannot change the fact that I’m not bred to your world.”
“Perhaps those differences are part of the reason why we’re attracted to one another.  It’s a way for both of us to break out of dullness of norms.”  He tucked a wisp of her hair behind her ear, her skin tingling from his touch.  “I was raised with the fixed belief that the perfect wife was a docile young lady with impeccable bloodlines.  That it was my duty to wed a well-born debutante.  Then I met you, Natalie.  And all of that went out the window.  Simply put, you’re everything I never knew that I needed.”
His declaration melted her heart.  There could be nothing more romantic than to be chosen by a powerful man who made her feel alive, body and soul.  A duke who could have any woman he wanted.  Yet logic whispered that it would never work.  She could list a hundred reasons why he was all wrong for her, not the least of which was the life she had planned back in America.  Still, the fire that heated her blood could not be denied...

What genres do you enjoy reading and do you have a favorite author from your childhood?

I’ll read just about anything that catches my fancy – mysteries, romance, women’s fiction, sci-fi, and research books. I recently read the official biography of Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy, a fascinating look into the upbringing of a princess told through excerpts from letters written by such royals as Queen Victoria, a cousin to Queen Mary’s mother. 

As to my youth, I loved Nancy Drew stories most of all. My sister and cousins and I used to pass them around. That’s probably why there’s often a little mystery/suspense in my own books. 

Are you already working on your next project (if so what) or are you taking a bit of down time for yourself?

I’m presently writing the third book in the “Unlikely Duchesses” series. This one centers around a heroine who grew up poor and works in a millinery shop. Determined to identify the noble father who abandoned her, she masquerades as a governess in a ducal household. Her quest throws her in conflict with the duke, who soon suspects she isn’t who she claims to be. And so the sparks fly! 

Olivia, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing this insight into your writing and your new book.

Author Olivia Drake
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Olivia Drake is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Texas. Her novels have won critical acclaim and numerous industry awards, including the prestigious RITA.

Olivia is the author of Scandal of the Year, Never Trust a Rogue, and If the Slipper Fits among others. Olivia’s books have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense, Best Regency Historical, and the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and a pair of feisty cats. Her two daughters have flown the nest, but they still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.

Olivia has also written under the name Barbara Dawson Smith.

Thanks for stopping by today. If you’re a writer, does bits of the genre you read in your youth tend to show up in your writing now? As a reader, do plucky characters tend to stay with you longer after you finish a book?


  1. This sounds like an interesting dynamic. And the premise is an intriguing one for a romance. Thanks for sharing, both.

  2. We all grew up reading Nancy drew. Nice interview


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