We are excited to welcome guest author Ashley March to the Roundtable today! Her debut Victorian romance, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, was just released on October 5 from Signet Books. Congratulations, Ashley! It’s wonderful that you could visit with us today!
First of all, thank you to Laurie and the rest of the Romance Roundtable crew for hosting me today! I’m excited to be here and to tell you a little bit about my struggle (yes, struggle!) in writing my debut novel, Seducing the Duchess.
The reason I say it was difficult to write Seducing the Duchess is because not only did I choose to write a reconciliation story, which is somewhat of a challenge in itself, but I also chose a heroine who has a temptress personality. We always hear people advising us to write what you know, right? When I first thought of Charlotte, my heroine, I had no idea how to write about a temptress because my personality is completely opposite. Whereas I’m introverted and shy, Charlotte is outgoing and overtly sexual at times. She enjoys taunting the hero, her husband Philip, and is accustomed to using her body to get what she wants. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s promiscuous, but that she has a talent for manipulating men as a result of their desire for her.
With that being said, she doesn’t sound much like a heroine any reader would root for, does she? We may like our heroines to be strong, smart, and independent, but usually (at least in my experience) we don’t want them to be too self-assured or cocky. Yet that’s what Charlotte has become. Just as the stoic and self-controlled Philip has his own masks to wear, so Charlotte wears the temptress mask as a measure of self-defense. The key—and challenge—in writing her this way was that I had to show the reader over the course of the book that while Charlotte does have a certain femme fatale aspect to her, beneath the mask she is vulnerable and even fragile when it comes to Philip.
Because I couldn’t draw from my own personality, I based my inspiration for Charlotte’s character on Scarlett from Gone with the Wind (although I didn’t intend their names to be so similar). Just like Scarlett is beautiful, impulsive, and strong, so is Charlotte in Seducing the Duchess. And just as no man except Rhett can pierce through Scarlett’s armor, so is Charlotte weakest when it comes to Philip.
While I struggled to write Charlotte, knowing that she must gain the reader’s sympathy, I also discovered it was a lot of fun. Delving into her character was almost like putting on my own mask, saying and doing things I would otherwise never think of doing. Although I was skeptical of writing a temptress heroine at the beginning, now I’m grateful for the idea. Not only do I think it’s made me a better writer in terms of developing characters, but I’m also more willing now to go for the unusual in writing historical romance…whether that means a different type of character, setting, or plot line.
As for Charlotte…I think I succeeded in making her a heroine readers can root for. But just to be sure, I’d love for you to have a chance to win a copy of Seducing the Duchess and let me know what you think! Simply comment below and tell me if a) you’ve ever taken a risk in writing about something unusual in your own story, or b) the last romance novel where you read about something (character, setting, plot line, etc.) you don’t normally see in romances, and why you liked it. One random commenter will win the copy of Seducing the Duchess.
Here’s a taste of SEDUCING THE DUCHESS:
It was just another scandalous night…
Gambling. Carousing. Flirting. Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford, will do anything to create a scandal large enough to force her husband to finally petition for a divorce. Once madly in love with Philip, she is now determined to escape from their less than civil marriage and the reminders of his betrayal.
Until he stole her away…
Philip Burgess, Duke of Rutherford, is not a man to tolerate regrets. He wed Charlotte for revenge, not for love or convenience, knowing she would come to hate him. But he never expected he would one day find himself craving her attention or desiring her company….
And gave her something more…
Philip is no longer the cold, deceitful man she married years ago. And when he promises Charlotte a divorce if she will help him become a better husband for another woman, she wonders if she truly wants to lose him—and if Philip may still possess her heart after all….
Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Don’t forget to comment for your chance to win a copy!