The idea for this book came me when I was writing the beginning of The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife. It was in this snippet:
The duke pointed in the direction of a young lady dancing with her partner. Nate tried to determine whether she was interested in the gentleman she was currently dancing with or not. She was smiling and seemed to be talking amiably to him.
“Isn’t that Lord Edon she’s dancing with?” Nate asked.
Rumsey frowned. “Hopefully not for long. His most notable accomplishments are gambling and women of ill repute. I fear he’s taken an interest in her dowry.”
At that point, I knew Rumsey’s daughter would end up with Ethan. What I didn’t know was how much I’d enjoy writing Ethan. After all this time, Ethan and his friend, Christopher Robinson, are my favorite two Regency characters.
This is the original cover:
When I decided to give my entire backlist a “face lift”, this book was one of them. (As you can see by the “Regency Collection” series title, my original intention was to write only a few Regencies.) At last count, I have completed 31 Regencies (2 of which are completed but haven’t been published yet).
I like Ethan’s mother. Her role was meant to be comical, but some people find her annoying. This is why I say that I have a weird sense of humor. Some people really hate it. They find it immature. No need to keep sending me messages letting me know how immature my humor is. I’m already aware of it. I grew up on Mel Brooks who did parodies. I enjoy movies that are parodies. Yes, they’re stupid, but they’re hilarious, too. I also enjoy “I Love Lucy”. That is my favorite TV show of all time, and Lucy got into a lot of trouble through the situations she put herself in. All of this influences my humor. It had a hand in the relationship between Ethan and his mother.
When I wrote this book, just about every single Regency out there I came across had a rake in it. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat if the hero was only pretending to be a rake?” And that’s how Ethan was born.
As a side note:
The whole “rake” thing in Regencies and the “hero who sowed his wild oats” theme in historical westerns is exactly why I started writing romances to begin with. I was tired of the experienced hero and virgin heroine theme that kept popping up. On the other end of the spectrum were the super squeaky clean romances which had the passion of a rock in them. I loved reading romances, but something had to change. After searching bookstores and talking to the employees who couldn’t help me find the books I was looking for, I ended up writing them myself.
Ethan needed a heroine who could complement him. While he was outwardly a rake, he was inwardly prudish. I did not go into the book expecting that, but as I wrote the story, that is how his character developed. So I needed to balance this out. That is why Catherine ended up being a wallflower who was secretly a seductress. I thought it would be fascinating to work with two people who were opposites. She allowed him to be the person he truly was, and he allowed her to be the person she truly was.
This part always cracks me up and is a good example of my weird sense of humor:
“Just what I need for a son-in-law,” Catherine’s father muttered. “He’s nothing but a pansy.”
At that, Ethan’s eyes flew open and he eased into an upright position. “I am not a pansy!”
“Of course, you’re not, my dear,” his mother replied as she hurried over to him and wiped the sweat off his forehead with a handkerchief.
Even though Ethan’s mother drives him crazy, he loves her, and he knows she has his best interest at heart. That’s why he lives in the same house with her and takes care of her.
In this book, Catherine’s father didn’t approve of Ethan. As I continued to write Regencies, that ended up changing. I can’t remember what book it’s in, but I have a part where I reference that her father paid Ethan a compliment (or something along those lines) and it shocked Ethan. I wish I could remember what book that was in. But yes, after years of terrorizing Ethan, her father finally grew to like him. Much to Ethan’s relief, he no longer has to worry about being invited over for “fencing”. 😛
While Ethan promised to never gamble again, later books reveal he didn’t keep this promise if he was sure he’d win. He even joined the bet in Taming the Viscountess, and this was the one time he actually lost.
The scene where Ethan and Catherine are at the circus is also in Her Counterfeit Husband when Jason is trying to figure out the truth about his past. I wrote Her Counterfeit Husband before I wrote A Most Unsuitable Earl, and I was looking for a way to mix the characters into the same world without them being aware of each other.
In this book, Ethan is reading “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in Lyrical Ballads, With a Few Other Poems. I read this book twice in high school (in two different schools since I was in Ohio up until my senior year; I moved to Florida my senior year). In a college, I had a teacher who used to quote from this story quite a bit. He would say, “Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink; water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” I can quote that off the top of my head because of him. I actually enjoyed this story, and to this day, it’s one of my favorites, though it’s far from being a romance.