I’m happy to say my current works in progress are coming along better than I had expected. I thought I’d share what is going on with them.
First, I wanted to say this is the definitive order of the Marriage by Obligation Series:
I decided to drop The Duke’s Return, which was originally supposed to be Book 5 in this series, because I don’t have an interest in writing it. I realize some people will want a certain character in Secret Admirer to get his story, but there’s no plot idea that sparks my interest with him. I’ve had to say “no” to a few projects in the past because I didn’t find anything exciting enough to write about for a particular character. It just is what it is. I can’t force a story that isn’t there.
So anyway, this is the complete list of books for the Marriage by Obligation Series.
Now onto the stories themselves…
I am 16,000 words in, and there’s already been an old bloody settee found in the attic. (This becomes important later in the story.) This story takes place at the heroine’s family estate, so the main characters are in a secluded environment. The main characters are the heroine, her two brothers, and the hero. There is only one servant available due to the heroine’s family’s financial ruin. Lord Quinton is the answer to their prayers. I thought he would be upset with being kidnapped and whisked off to marry the heroine, but he developed affections for her in Secret Admirer and is quite agreeable to the match, though he’s not all that excited they didn’t think to take any of his clothes with him when they kidnapped him.
I originally introduced Lord Quinton in The Cursed Earl. He’s the character who is obsessed with good and bad luck. I brought him back in Secret Admirer, which is due out March 2023, and he’s still convinced that he needs to tip the balance of luck in his favor. He is the right character for the gothic story I’ve been wanting to tell since 2020. So far, the humor is strong. But I already know what these characters are going to find in a remote area on the property, and the subject matter will turn dark. Something terrible did happen at this estate back in the 1600s, and these characters are about to uncover it.
I originally thought I should tone it down since this is a romance, and I know a lot of romance readers don’t like dark elements in their books. But then I decided this is my story, and if I want it done right, I need to do it this way. I have to write this for myself. If people don’t like the direction it goes, then they don’t have to read it. I’d say it’s going to be close to The Duke’s Secluded Bride. So if you are fine with that book, you’ll be okay with this one. But if that disturbed you, skip this one. That all said, there is still the humor that will help to lighten the mood. Lord Quinton’s reaction to things and the fact that the heroine’s older brother thinks Lord Quinton is the oddest person he’s ever met will help balance the darker elements.
The Earl’s Jilted Bride
I don’t know if anyone remembers that duke I was planning to get rid of who was supposed to come back. I wrote that post a while back. Anyway, my original idea for this series was to introduce the duke in Secret Admirer. He was betrothed to Lady Carol, but he resented being fixed up to marry her so he was supposed to run off. She was supposed to end up with someone else instead, who then would die, and when the duke returned, he was supposed to make things right. But honestly, I wasn’t feeling it. The plot felt stale and boring. So after taking time to figure things out, I went a different route. I decided to have news of the duke’s suicide come out at the end of Secret Admirer, thereby setting up the events for The Earl’s Jilted Bride.
In the suicide note, the duke makes it clear he is killing himself so he doesn’t have to marry Lady Carol. Lord Wright, who desperately needs a mother for his two-year-old daughter, jumps at the chance to marry her. Since she can’t imagine anyone else taking her, and since her guardian is threatening to run her to a convent, she accepts the marriage proposal. I introduce Lord Wright and Lady Carol in Secret Admirer, though they don’t meet each other until this book.
I’m only in Chapter 5, so there hasn’t been much build up to this story yet. What I know are two things: 1) Lord Wright is not the girl’s biological father, but to save the family from scandal, he hides this fact. 2) Carol is going to be accused of murdering the duke. The fact that she’s going to be accused of murder can go in many directions. I won’t know how the others in this story will respond until I write those scenes. The fun part of writing is not knowing what will happen until you’re writing it out. This drives plotters nuts, but it works for me. I want to be surprised. I don’t want to know how things will play out in advance. This is why when I read how predictable my books are, I’m thinking, “They weren’t predictable to me.” Except, perhaps, the predictable aspect stems from the fact that these are romances, and in romance, you are guaranteed the hero and heroine will work things out and have a happy ending. If that’s the case, then yes, my books are predictable, because even I know this element of the story going into it. But how I get from the beginning to the end is always up in the air to me.
Worth the Risk
Anyone remember Reuben St. George from It It Takes a Scandal? He was the kid brother of Corin St. George (Lord Durrant). In the story, he ran out to his estate because he thought Reuben was seriously ill. Anyway, Reuben is now an adult and ready for his own romance. I bring Reuben and Corin back in Secret Admirer, but the emphasis leans more heavily in Reuben’s direction since he is the hero of Book 4 in this series. In Secret Admirer, he meets Miss Amelia Carnel. Amelia is Lord Wright’s sister. Since Lord Wright’s book is The Earl’s Jilted Bride, I am able to bring Reuben and Amelia in for quite a few scenes that will set things up for the events that take place in Worth the Risk.
Worth the Risk starts with Reuben coming down with another illness that scared Corin enough where he demands that Reuben leave London and return to the estate. Reuben, used to taking orders from a brother 15 years his senior and reasoning that Amelia should have a husband who is healthier, heeds his brother’s wishes. He writes a missive to Amelia explaining why he’s leaving, adding that he wishes things could have been different between them. Well, Amelia is not the kind of lady who is just going to let true love walk out of her life, and so she and her brother follow him out to the estate.
This story is going to have a happy ending because it is a romance. My husband thought I was going to kill Reuben off because he’s sickly, but I’m not going to use that all-too-familiar trope because, quite frankly, that trope sucks. The reason I love romance is that it’s all about hope. Even thought Reuben is sickly, the lesson is that we can’t stop living out of fear that we might die. We have to enjoy life. It does no good to hole yourself up from other people. A meaningful relationship is worth the risk (hence the title of the story). Meaningful relationships are what makes living worth it.
Naturally, this will create some conflict between Reuben and Corin, but I’m not the far into the story yet. I’m only in Chapter 4. There’s still plenty of things that need to happen before Corin finds out that Amelia’s with Reuben. Of the three stories, this one will probably have the lightest tone, though it will not be a comedy. Midnight Wedding will have the comedic moments that will border on comedy. Worth the Risk is more of a tender and sweet romance.
I’ve been re-reading The Marriage by Fairytale books this week. I like when some books have a Gothic theme to them. A little excitement is good as long as I get my happy ending. There is nothing wrong with stepping away from reality. I know I need to in the books I read.
I’m very happy you are not killing off Rueben. He is a fun character who deserves his happy ending and a long life. Why not. I hope he is still playing the piano too.
The new series looks like four really good reads and I look forward to them.
Thanks for writing.
That’s how I feel about books too. As long as there’s a happy ending, I can handle whatever happens leading up to it. The happy ending makes it worth while.
I would hate to kill of a main character. I only kill off villains, and that’s only if they are so bad I can’t redeem them. Though, to make this story work, I did have to explain the mother had already passed on. Otherwise, I can’t have the setup I need. Corin needs to worry that having a wife is going to end up bad for him since Corin isn’t sure anyone can take care of Reuben like their mother could. I need Corin to worry in order to have a plot. Otherwise, there’s no story to write, and I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I introduced Reuben in If It Takes a Scandal.
I’m so glad you’re doing this series. I love all the ideas. I’m also glad that you’re going a little dark in Midnight Wedding. I love humor and dark together. Someone emailed me one time about one of my novellas written under my other pen name, and he said he didn’t like how the book had a lot of humor, but then there was some violence. But why not? I always wrote my books the way I wanted because it’s not all about making money. It’s about what makes you happy as an author.
I like blending dark with humor and romance. The romance is for the certainty of the happy ending. Also, I love to watch characters fall in love. It’s been that way ever since I was a pre-teen reading those teen romances. My mother loved horror. I grew up on it. The stuff she liked was pretty dark. But that’s why I tend to steer toward dark from time to time. The humor aspect comes from my dad who would watch a lot of those goofy movies that most people deem as “immature and stupid”. But he loved that stuff, and growing up with it, I did, too. So the humor is probably his influence. Personally, I love blending humor and violence. The movie that comes to mind when I think of that is Jaws. The subject matter was serious, but it sure was nice to have that reprieve so you could laugh. I don’t know. My personality is quirky. I like the kind of stuff I think a lot of people don’t. For what it’s worth, I’ve always enjoyed your books.
People will always have their opinion about what should or shouldn’t be in a book. If they want a story done a certain way, they can write it themselves. That’s what I did when I couldn’t find something specific that I wanted. If we don’t write stuff we love, what’s the point in writing it? I love money as much as the next person, but if you don’t want to read the stuff you what, just how good was it? No book is an all-time big seller forever. Sooner or later, the sales fall off. Then you’re left with the book you created, not the money. You might as well enjoy the story since you can always go back to it.