Too many dukes is what I thought looking at the shelves in my favorite local bricks and mortar book store earlier this month. All the big names in historical Romance seemed to have the “D” word in their titles. How was a reader to choose from the surfeit of handsome, powerful, and possibly wicked men to be tamed by a heroine in three hundred and fifty pages?
My next thought was—does the hero have to be a duke? Does he need that title to assume the arrogance and privilege that tempts a smart, plucky heroine to take aim at his pretensions? Couldn’t he merely be wealthy, aristocratic, and male, like Mr. Darcy? Wouldn’t an earl do, or a baronet of a sufficiently large estate?
Why are so many romance writers hooked on dukes? In her latest book Loretta Chase makes a compelling case for the dominance of dukes.Too many dukes is literally her heroine’s dilemma in Chase’s A Duke in Shining Armor. Lady Olympia Hightower is betrothed to the Duke of Ashmont, but runs away from her wedding with the Duke of Ripley.
Chase's answer is that in standing up to all that male power and privilege the heroine becomes heroic. Chase’s story speaks to me not only because the writing is good, as usual, but also because her heroine wins the day with kindness, practicality, and good sex—three things I believe in. Furthermore, in winning each other, the hero and heroine liberate themselves from the false identities with which they began the story, the very definition of a marriage plot story from my website: http://www.katemoore.com/writingromance.html.
In my own books, dukes have figured as the snobby father in A Prince Among Men, or as the villain of a series in To Tempt a Saint, To Save the Devil, and To Seduce an Angel. One real life duke inspired the backstory for Lord Hazelwood, the hero of book one in my new series from Lyrical Press.
In 1994 the “Marquess of Blandford, the wayward son and heir of the 11th Duke of Marlborough, lost his right to control Blenheim Palace following a High Court ruling.” As the 11th duke said at the time, “there is a black sheep in all families.” Find out how I used that bit of history to create my own black sheep--Lord Hazelwood, the unlikely spy/hero of The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London. Release date--January 2. Available here in all reading formats. http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/35723
By the way, the real marquess, like my Viscount Hazelwood, is redeemed, reconciled with his father and restored to his place in the succession. How? By the love of a good woman, of course.
I love to hear from readers. Have you read any good dukes lately?