– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Winning Back His Duchess’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)
She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Santa Fe with a Poodle, a cat, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections.
When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.
Amanda also writes as Laurel McKee for Grand Central Publishing, the Elizabethan Mystery Series as Amanda Carmack, and the Manor Cat Mystery Series as Eliza Casey.
Escape to beautiful Venice for this Victorian marriage reunited story…
An invitation to Venice…
To save their marriage!
Suggesting divorce to her estranged husband, Jamie, Duke of Byson, takes all of Rose Wilkins’s courage. Years of distance and heartbreak have taken a toll—she needs a new start. But Jamie won’t hear of divorce, because of the scandal alone. His counteroffer is a trip to Venice… Might discovering Venice’s delights together rekindle the still-simmering desire that drew Rose to Jamie as a starry-eyed young American heiress?
Guest Post :
I hope you enjoyed the adventures of the Wilkins sisters as much as I have! When I was very young, I found a biography of Jennie Jerome on my grandmother’s bookshelf, and was amazed at her bold, adventurous life. Later I discovered Edith Wharton and The Bucaneers, and wondered at the lives of young American women finding themselves in a whole different society and way of life than they had known, and their various fates. The Wilkins sisters are the lucky ones, of course, and find true love and fulfillment in being duchesses!
2020 was a challenging year in so many ways, so I loved being able to visit one of my very favorite cities, Venice, through Rose and Jamie. Rose’s palazzo is based on the Ca’Doro and the Palazzo Gradanigo, and she sees many real spots—the church of the Miracoli (Venice’s favorite wedding church!) and the Teatro Goldoni. Hopefully, I’ll be able to admire them in person again soon.
Rose’s artistic friends at Pryde Abbey are also based on real places and people—the Prinseps at Little Holland House, and The Souls. (Violet got to visit Little Holland House as well, in Playing the Duke’s Fiancee). Little Holland House was originally a dower house for the grand Holland House, and was occupied by members of the powerful political family the Foxes. In 1850, HT Prinsep, director of the East India Company, moved in with his wife Sara Pattle (sister of the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron), and it became a center of artistic and bohemian life for over twenty-one years. The Prinseps moved out in 1871, so it couldn’t be used in this book! The Souls were an elite social and intellectual group of Society friends from 1885 to about 1900, including the Grenfells and Wyndhams, George Curzon, Margot Asquith, and Violet Manners. (Their children were known as The Coterie, and included the famously beautiful Lady Diana Manners, though sadly many of them were killed in World War I).
(A couple of interesting sources for these groups are Kensington and Chelsea: A Social and Architectural History and Angela Lambert’s Unquiet Souls: The Indian Summer of the British Aristocracy, 1880-1918).
Rose (quite against her will!) has found herself as a Professional Beauty, or PB, the reality stars of their day. A trend arose in the 1870s and ‘80s for the images of beautiful Society women (and also some actresses and singers) to be displayed and sold in shop windows, and their lives were followed in newspapers. They were much sought-after as guests of honor at parties, set fashions, and could often build careers beyond Society (such as Lillie Langtry). Other famous PBs included Lady Warwick, Jennie Jerome, Lady de Grey, Mrs. Cornwallis-West, and Mrs. Wheeler.
I took a little historical liberty in allowing Rose to be called “American Beauty Rose”! The flower, a deep pink rose cultivar, was bred by Henri Ledechaux in France in 1885, and was called “Madame Ferdinand Jamin.” It was renamed when brought to America in 1886, and later became the best-selling rose in the US in the 1920s.
For more information, you can always visit me at ammandamccabe.com and here are a few more sources I enjoyed, if you’d like to read more:
–Judith Marten, No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice (2007)
–Peter Ackroyd, Venice: Pure City (2009)
–Jane Adby, The Souls (1984)
–Claudia Renton, Those Wild Wyndhams (2014)
–Roberto Alonge, Goldoni (2004)
–Carlo Goldoni, On Playwrighting (re-release 2019)
–Palazzi di Venezia (1987)
–James C. Davis, A Venetian Family and Its Fortunes, 1500-1900 (1975)
The Magic of Wor(l)ds